Perhaps in six months a new united application will start operating for those who strictly treat the drivers making traffic violations and upload those violations on their social network pages.
After registration, one may upload audio visual materials, or in other words, make reports on traffic violations. Initially, the platform will operate in trial mode only in Yerevan and on interstate routes, and then throughout Armenia as well.
In essence, the platform is created for each citizen who records a traffic violation on their mobile phone and is ready to share it with law enforcement without revealing the source. The person will be revealed only on the basis of the citizen’s written agreement.
This platform will belong to the state and have a specially developed system to minimize the number of uploaded data repetitions and inappropriate complaints. At least, this is what authors of the bill, MPs of “My Step” faction Sisak Gabrielyan and Armen Pambukhchyan state. On the basis of the posted and approved reports on violations, administrative proceedings will be instituted.
Although the draft law has already been fully adopted by the RA National Assembly on October 23, members of “Prosperous Armenia” party have described it as “snitching” and “hurting the neighbor”. The authors’ clarifications of the bill are not convincing for the faction, so they voted against the bill.
What is this law about?
First, it should be noted that an amendment has been made to the already existing law within the frameworks of this initiative. That is, the law “On the peculiarities of administrative proceedings on cases of violations of traffic rules detected by video cameras or photographic devices” has been amended. The law has come into effect since 2008.
Several articles have been added to the existing law. This will regulate the institution of administrative proceedings of the intended online system, the rights and obligations of the people registered therein, as well as the audio-visual reports in this system.
In addition to this law, the Government has yet to adopt the appropriate decision, setting the number of reports on the same vehicle by the same person. Currently this viewpoint is being discussed: one and the same person may not send more than one such message per month, and no more than 10 per year.
“This does not mean that the Police or any other body shows inactivity or weakness and that is why we have proposed this project. On the contrary, we create a new platform for cooperation between these bodies and citizens and, in essence, citizens become a direct participant in those legal relation,” said co-author of the project Sisak Gabrielyan in an interview with Ampop Media.
He notes that today each citizen may submit a report on administrative violations to the law enforcement bodies, while due to digital information technologies, the process will be faster and more coordinated.
Anyhow, the head of “Freedom of Information Center of Armenia,” Shushan Doydoyan finds this proposal problematic. According to her, many citizens are unaware of the importance of personal data privacy. As a result, raw materials will be uploaded in the system which will enable to identify anyone currently being on the street and in the car, including the driver. Whereas the Road Police send notices to drivers by keeping the confidentiality of personal data. They take into account specially developed principles where one may notice only the license plate number of the vehicle which made a traffic violation.
“Just at the moment of recording the violation, we are already processing personal data. Whether we will keep it at us or not, it is an interference to one’s personal life. Both publishing, and recording, and sending to the Police is considered to be data processing. But the damage, of course, is greater when we share it on social networks,” she says.
Doydoyan raises a question: how is it possible to increase citizens’ legal literacy within a short time so that witnesses of traffic violations can keep the data privacy of others.
Gabrielyan disagrees with Doydoyan. He claims that citizens who have made violations through this system will even be protected by the state.
“Maybe it sounds illogical, but when the same complainants record violations on their mobile devices and post on Facebook, it becomes accessible and open to everyone, and the very person is being publicly condemned for their offense. In case of the system we suggest, data may not become public and can be sent to the Police only via online connection,”Gabrielyan explains.
There is a group on Facebook called “Don’t Do LIKE THIS” (“Mi Arek AYSPES”) which often posts photos and videos of the violations, and sometimes the RA Police proceedings against these cars.
In an interview with Ampop Media, Sergey Ghahramanyan, head of the “Traffic Safety and Control” NGO, notes that there are similar initiatives in a number of countries. “In Moscow, for example, there is an appendix named «Помощник Москвы» (“Moscow Assistant”), Singapore and Beirut have similar mechanisms as well. And in America any citizen may call and tell what they saw on the basis of which the Police can fine the driver who made a traffic violation,”says Ghahramanyan.
According to him, this is a prove that citizen-state legal relations are at a high level.
Sergey Ghahramanyan emphasizes that “snitching” is not typical of this system. “Snitching is the case when a person is slandered and fined for what they have not done, while this is an alert for what they have done,”he says adding that due to this system violations would not increase but they will decrease.
Ghahramanyan is hopeful that the use of this system will have a deterrent role for drivers, as most violations are made deliberately including parking on the sidewalks and driving in the opposite lane.
In his turn MP Gabrielyan assures that by all means the Government will determine in which violation cases the users may post their reports. According to him, this is done taking into account the fact that there are such streets where drivers have no alternative but making violations because of peculiarities of the street.
Article by Karine Kirakosyan
Infographics by Gayane Melikyan
Photos from private storage of Varduhi Aramyan
Translated by Mary Grigoryan
Responsible Editor Suren Deheryan
The article makes part of “Economy and Society in the Regions of RA” article series
For Armenian original CLICK HERE
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