Romanian Prosecutors want easy access to communication data

By EDRi · January 31, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A new normative act regarding the competence of the Prosecutors dealing with
terrorism and organized crime adopted by the Romanian Government in the last
days of 2006 created rumours among the press and civil society that accused
the Ministry of Justice of breaching the citizens privacy.

The new act (Emergency Government Ordinance 131/2006) was adopted in the
last government meeting in 2006, without any public debate on the new
provisions being introduced. The Ordinance entered into force on 1
January 2007 and gave more powers to the Prosecutors Department for
Investigations on Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

According to the press and civil society groups, the new law would allow
prosecutors to monitor banking accounts and IT systems without warrant,
which may lead to a whole lot of abuses. Georgiana Iorgulescu, head of the
Juridical Resource Center, commented on this: “I don’t think it is normal
for such a normative document to pass as emergency ordinance, because it
actually restricts the right to private life.”

The text of the new act, which is in fact very ambiguous in some respects,
needs to be interpreted in correlation with the Romanian Procedure Penal
code and the “cybercrime law” (Law 161/2003 – Title III) , but still raises
serious questions marks regarding the actual practical interpretation of the
“access to computer systems” in relation with the other definitions of the
normative acts

The Ministry of Justice has tried to clarify the issues through some press
releases and discussions with civil society, but the case is still open
since the text has not been modified. The Ministry of Justice underlined
that the access to computer data or phone calls could and will be made only
with a specific judge warrant and this is a situation that will not be
changed. They pointed out that the text would refer only to the traffic data
from electronic communications providers and that a similar provision of the
Anti-corruption Prosecutors from 2002 had in fact never been used. The
Ministry also insisted that the present procedure just tries to clarify the
situation, because the traffic data could be accessed with a simple
notification from the Prosecutor in a specific case until now.

The civil society groups have expressed their reserves even in the case of
the access of Prosecutors to traffic data, considering that citizen privacy
is in danger. One of the civil society NGOs, SoJust (Society for Justice)
has also petitioned the Ombudsman for a case with the Constitutional Court
for the breach of the constitutional right to privacy.

It is very possible that the present text will be changed in the near
future, since the Emergency Government Ordinance needs to be discussed by
the Parliament. Also the Ministry of Justice has admitted that a
clarification of the terms used could be beneficial. Recently, the Prime
Minister has announced that a new public debate will be initiated on those
specific provisions.

Although the discussion will be probably focused on the clarification of the
access to traffic data, including who has the right to access these types of
data, nothing was publicly mentioned in relation with the implementation of
the European directive on data retention. The ministry who has the
obligation to present a first draft is the Ministry of Communications and
Information Technology but, so far, not a single draft document was publicly
made available, even though several meetings have taken place behind closed
doors with the major electronic communications providers.

Ministry of Justice – Remarks on the Emergency Government Ordinance 131/2006
(only in Romanian, 18.01.2007)

Macovei’s agency (18.01.2007)

DIICOT is playing with “access to computer systems” (only in Romanian,

SoJust : Comments on Emergency Government Ordinance 131/2006 (only in
Romanian, 22.01.2007)