Data Retention by ISPs
Being a member of the European Union meant that Romania was bound by the EU’s 2006 Data Retention
(Directive 2006/24/EC). The country duly complied with its EU obligations by enacting Law No.
298 (which regulated
retention of data generated or processed by suppliers of electronic communication services and
networks) and making key amendments to Law No. 506/2004 (which addressed the processing of
personal data in the
electronic communications sector). The government attempted to justify the mandatory retention
of data by invoking
undefined “threats to national security”.
However, in 2009 the
Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) declared
that these Romanian laws which implemented the EU Data Retention Directive were an
unconstitutional violation of
Romanian citizens' rights to privacy and private correspondence. The CCR held that the
legislation was a clear
infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, and which were disproportionate to the laws’ purposes.
The court was
especially critical of how the legislation amounted to a “presumption of guilt” on the part of
any citizen whose
had been retained – this the court found especially objectionable.
2011 the EU was putting Romania under
pressure to enact the Directive, and so the Romanian government made every to get a second
version of the data
retention law enacted, which occurred in 2012. However, yet in 2014 the Constitutional Court of
Romania once again
declared the revised data retention legislation to be unconstitutional in its entirety.
The EU has since relented in
insisting that Romania enact the directive, no doubt compounded by an April 2014 decision by the
European Court of
Justice (ECJ) that declared the 2006 European Data Retention Directive to be a gross violation
of privacy rights
European law and, therefore, was held to be invalid.
Romania remains the
only EU country to have had its data
retention law thrown out by the highest court of the land not once, but twice!
Digital Copyright Laws
The Romanian Copyright Office (ORDA) was established in 1996, and the agency promotes and
legislation. The General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) provides national coordination of
intellectual property rights
enforcement, but copyright law enforcement remains a low priority for Romanian prosecutors and
judges. Many courts
still tend to view copyright piracy as a “victimless crime” and this attitude has resulted in
very weak enforcement
copyright law. The downloading of pirated content is very popular in Romania, which means that
of music and film is widespread throughout the country.
been cited by intellectual property groups
as being ‘soft’ on internet piracy, particularly with regard to both Torrent sites peer-to-peer
(P2P) file sharing
business-to-consumer piracy. The country is even on the United States’ notorious ‘Special 301
Watch List’ for
intellectual property concerns, primarily due to what is held to be Romania’s weak enforcement
copyright piracy. Even Romanian authorities have admitted that enforcement remains weak due to
that copyright violations are non-violent, ‘victimless’ crimes.
Freedom of Speech and Censorship
Romania’s Constitution guarantees freedom from censorship and freedom of expression. However,
freedom of speech
remains fairly precarious in Romania to this day. A very controversial law was passed by
Romania’s Senate in 2015 in
which anyone accused of “social defamation” can be subject to penalty. Fines can go as high as
22.500 Euros for
defamation of a group. Another 2015 law that sought to
gambling was derided by privacy activists for
allowing internet censorship and for being a violation to a person’s right to a private
Romania’s commitments regarding online privacy seem tenuous at best looking forward. Although the
Constitutional Court has been resolute in defending privacy above data retention legislation,
the country still
doesn’t seem to have a strong culture of freedoms and rights. That may bode badly for Romania in
the future – or it
may mature into a country with a strong sense of rights, including that of online privacy.
Romania seems to protect online privacy very well, yet not freedom of speech. Romanians need
to be attuned to any developments that may impact their online privacy.
Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws