On Wednesday, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, convened in plenary session, rejected the law on Romania’s cyber security.
The Chamber of Deputies has rejected the law on electronic communication, and the law regarding Romania’s cyber-security, also known as the "Big Brother" laws, which returned on the chamber’s table after being analyzed by the Constitutional Court. Both of them had been deemed unconstitutional by the Court, so the Chamber’s decision was to be expected. The topic is highly controversial, and already triggered the resignation, a month ago, of the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service, George Maior, after 8 years in office.
Back then Maior spoke about the need for such ‘big brother’ laws, the more so as against the current geo-political security background these laws are indispensable for the protection and observance of citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms. Lacking such laws, Maior said, would create a legislative void that has not existed in the past 25 years in Romania, and this would be extremely dangerous for the citizens. Vehemently criticized by the civil society and adopted by Parliament in December, Romania’s cyber-security law was declared unconstitutional a month later, the judges thus validating the notification submitted by a group of Liberal parliamentarians, in the opposition, who stressed that the draft law in question was in breach of people’s fundamental right to private life in the virtual space.
Besides the fact that the country’s Higher Defense Council had not endorsed the draft law, the Constitutional Courts’ judges also noticed that the law was actually in breach of several provisions of the constitution, such as those regarding the free access to justice and fair trial, the right to private and family life, and those regarding the confidentiality of correspondence. Another two laws from the so-called ‘Big Brother’ package had already been rejected by the Constitutional Court: the one regarding the obligation of telephony and Internet service providers to keep the users’ data for 6 months and the one regarding their obligation ask for personal information from the users of pre-pay phone cards and Wi-F networks.
Those who are against the cyber-security law have argued that it would allow intelligence services and prosecutors to have access to the data included in any IT system, suspected of implication in an illegal activity, without a Court warrant and based solely on a motivated request. On the other hand, the supporters of the law have said that the law would not apply to common citizens and that such a law is necessary given the unprecedented upsurge in cyber crime. According to the Romanian Intelligence Service, such fears and accusations are totally ungrounded, as the law does not allow the state institutions’ access to personal data without a Court order.