Romanian Parliament adopts the data retention law. Again.

By EDRi · May 23, 2012

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Rumänien: Parlament verabschiedet Gesetz zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung. Schon wieder. |]

On 22 May 2012, the lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament adopted the
new draft law on data retention with 197 votes for the proposal and only
18 against it. The Chamber of Deputies has 332 members, so it is most
likely that some parliamentary groups did not participate to the vote at

Even though the higher chamber (the Senate) rejected the draft law in
almost unanimity on 21 December 2011, the new majority in the Chambers
of Deputies feared the sanctions from the European Commissions,
(estimated at 30 000 Euros/day of delay) and went ahead to adopt the
text without any real evidence or debate over the right to privacy,
despite the very clear Constitutional Court ruling of 2009 on the
former data retention law or the concerns raised again by several human
rights NGOs including EDRi-member ApTI.

In fact, after the rejection by the Senate and a negative vote from the
Human Rights Committee in the Chambers of Deputies, one could have
believed that the fate of the new draft law, that was not supported by
the Government, was clear.

But the latest weeks have shown an impressive pressure from different
locally appointed individuals dealing with EU matters – including the
current Minister of European Affairs -pushing for the new law, just to
avoid the imminent fine from the European Commission.

So, in the end, the political groups decided to ignore the citizens’
rights and the Constitutional Court’s decision, without any relevant
discussion on privacy in the Chamber of Deputies or its main two
committees that debated the law (Legal Committee and ITC Committee).

In a campaign to sensitize MPs over the data retention law back in
February 2012, started by EDRI-member ApTI, only 1 Deputy out of the
total 332 cared to answer the emails and snail mail the campaign. In
this context of profound lack of real basic democratic skills from the
Romanian MPs, it was no surprise that all the civil society concerns
were just ignored, without any explanations.

The draft law adopted is actually worse than the initial one, with the
access to the retained data in limbo. If the text of 2008 stated
clearly that only a judge could allow the access to the data, the new
text is unclear, making a reference to the Penal Procedure Code that,
in fact, says nothing on the matter.

Unfortunately, the Chambers of Deputies’ vote was decisive in this case
and represents the final Parliament vote on this law. Now, within 5
days, certain institutions may initiate an unconstitutionality
complaint to the Romanian Constitutional Court – but it is unclear if
that will happen.

If no complaint is submitted, then the law will go to the President for
promulgation. Then it will be published in the Official Monitor. From
then on, it is probably just a matter of time until an NGO
initiates a legal case, in order to get in fact a complaint to the
Constitutional Court.

Chamber of Deputies have adopted the text of the Big Brother law (only
in Romanian, 22.05.2012)

Text of the adopted law (with amendments from the latest committees
meeting) (only in Romanian)

Law file on the Chamber of Deputies website

Results of the campaign to contact Romanian MPs (23.03.2012)

EDRi-gram: Romania: Data retention law declared unconstitutional