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IP Address
35.175.182.106
Internet provider
Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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Privacy Laws in Romania

IVPN customers in Romania trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in Romania.

Data Retention by ISPs

Being a member of the European Union meant that Romania was bound by the EU’s 2006 Data Retention Directive (Directive 2006/24/EC). The country duly complied with its EU obligations by enacting Law No. 298 (which regulated the retention of data generated or processed by suppliers of electronic communication services and public communications 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”[1].

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 data had been retained – this the court found especially objectionable[2].

By 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[3]. 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 under European law and, therefore, was held to be invalid[4]. 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 monitors copyright 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 of copyright law. The downloading of pirated content is very popular in Romania, which means that copyright infringement of music and film is widespread throughout the country[5].

Romania has 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 and 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 efforts against on-line copyright piracy. Even Romanian authorities have admitted that enforcement remains weak due to persistent perceptions that copyright violations are non-violent, ‘victimless’ crimes[6].

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[7]. Another 2015 law that sought to control online gambling was derided by privacy activists for allowing internet censorship and for being a violation to a person’s right to a private life[8].

Future Trends

Romania’s commitments regarding online privacy seem tenuous at best looking forward. Although the country’s 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.

Our Take

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 page.

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