After the recent attacks in Paris, authorities argue that Romania needs a law on cyber security.
The recent terror attacks in Paris have strengthened the calls for a law on cyber security, dubbed by its many critics the “Big Brother Act.” Turned down once by the Constitutional Court last summer, the bill will be brought back on the agenda of the Government and Parliament of Romania, after it has been subject to public debate.
A large part of civil society is against the bill, on grounds that no institution or individual should be given the right to breach someone’s privacy, to check other people’s computers and see who they talk to and about what. Given that the Constitutional Court dismissed the Big Brother bill in July 2014, several NGOs claim that the authorities are using the Paris tragedy as the pretext they had been waiting for to promote security legislation that goes against fundamental human rights.
In an attempt to dispel rumours and allegations against the cyber security bill, the Romanian Intelligence Service has offered a number of explanations, stating that the goal is precisely to protect fundamental civic rights and that relevant authorities will only have access to someone’s IT equipment and private data stored on it on the basis of a court order. The Service also explained that only the owners of cyber infrastructure, and not private individuals, will be asked to make available technical data regarding the threat that is the subject of the investigation.
If preliminary checks reveal that the investigation needs to be broadened to include specific individuals, then a judge would have to authorize access to those individuals’ computers, tablets or smartphones. The Romanian Intelligence Service also explained that no separate provisions are necessary as regards the compliance with human rights, because the procedure to authorize access to personal data is already regulated both by the Code of Criminal Procedure and by the National Security Act.
But while the Big Brother bill remains subject to controversies and dispute, not the same is true for the law on prepaid phone cards. A draft regulation requiring the identification of the buyers of such cards upon purchase does not seem to upset too many people, as the general assumption is that the cards are not used for secret or illegal purposes.