Romania: Data retention law declared unconstitutional

By EDRi · October 21, 2009

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Deutsch: [Rumänien: Gesetz zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung für verfassungswidrig erklärt |]

The Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) announced on 7 October 2009 that it
took the decision to consider unconstitutional the Romanian implementation
of the data retention directive.

The Romanian data retention law has been in force since the beginning of
2009, but it received a lot of bad press reviews, as reported by EDRi-gram
at the beginning of the year. Several NGOs declared that they would contest
the law. An initial appeal of the civil society to the Ombudsman was not
successful, since the Ombudsman did not consider the law as unconstitutional
and therefore he declared that he would not ask the opinion of the
Constitutional Court.

The case that was decided by the Constitutional Court in October 2008 was
initiated by a Romanian NGO, Civil Society Commissariat, which sued its
mobile operator for keeping the traffic data according to the new law on
data retention 298/2008. The lawsuit brought to the Bucharest Tribunal was
just a pretext to raise, during the trial, a motion for the law’s
unconstitutionality – so that CCR would give its opinion of the data
retention law.

CCR has accepted the motion for law’s unconstitutionality through decision
1258/2009, based on the breach of article 28 of the Romanian Constitution,
which stipulates the secrecy of correspondence. Other articles invoked were
articles 25, 26 and 30 which deal with freedom of movement, privacy and
freedom of expression respectively.

Unfortunately, it could take some time to see the motivation of the CCR and
therefore to asses the real potential of this breakthrough decision. It
might take even one month to get the official text published in the Official
Monitor. In any case, the decision of the CCR is final and can’t be

The court is the only authority of constitutional jurisdiction in Romania,
independent of any other public authority. It is formed by nine judges,
appointed for a nine-year term. Its members are renewed by one third every
three years. The court is known for its low number of cases admitted as
unconstitutional. In 2008 there were only 18 cases fully admitted, out of
almost 1400 motions raised in the regular courts.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Society was quick to declare
that it informed the European Commission about the new situation and that
they might re-draft the law in order to avoid the constitutionality issues.
But the problems could be more complicated for the executive if the decision
of the CCR declares unconstitutional the entire law or article 1 which
stipulates the purpose of the law.

The decision also comes in a rather restless political and social period
that might have influenced the CCR outcome and could further on have an
impact on the way in which the Government will deal with this case. But for
now, there is no stable government in place, with the former one being
repealed by the Parliament on 13 October and a new one under formation these

Romanian constitution

Romania’s Constitutional Court Rules Data Storage Law Unconstitutional

Waw: Constitutional Court declared the law on data retention
unconstitutional (only in Romanian, 8.10.2009)

Romanian authorities seek solutions for the data retention law (only in
Romanian, 9.10.2009)

Statistical situation of the Romanian Constitutional Court Acts

The Ombudsman will not address the CCR regarding the data retention law
(only in Romanian, 10.02.2009)

EDRi-gram: Romania: Is really privacy a topic in the public debate?