Justice Minister Predoiu: General Prosecutor’s amendments of Law 2998/2008 are grounded and reasonable

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Minister of Justice and Citizens' Freedoms Catalin Predoiu told a news conference on Wednesday (Jan 21) that the amendments of General Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi to Law 298/2008 placing phone service providers under the obligation to retain some data from phone conversations are "grounded and reasonable."
Predoiu confirmed having received Kovesi's request for amending certain provisions in the law concerning data provision and amendments thereof, saying he will voice an opinion after the Justice Ministry has analysed it.
 
"As a lawyer, I can tell you at first sight that the amendments seem grounded to me. I do not want to state anything before analysis. As common in my ministerial practice, I will let experts voice their opinions and we will then issue an opinion on the request of the General Prosecutor," said Predoiu, adding that the arguments of the head of the Public Prosecution Ministry are "absolutely reasonable."
 
At the same time, he said he knows very well the difficulties facing prosecutors in special trans-frontier crime cases, kidnappings and other such cases. He added that there is a concern at the European level over this issue and mentioned that in 2008 a large debate was held in the UK on kidnappings, human trafficking and cross-border cooperation in this area.
 
Predoiu said the term "serious crimes", which, under Law 298/2008, allows prosecutors to ask judges for a warrant to get personal data, will be soon clarified.
The minister also said he will back up the General Prosecutor's proposals, with some amendments.
 
General Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi on Tuesday said the Law on preserving data from phone conversations includes some provisions that will stymie criminal prosecution, such as the interception of phone conversations and the time required for personal data storage.
 
Kovesi objected that certain data may be requested, including the list of recorded conversation of a given phone line operated by telecommunications operators only after criminal prosecution has started. At the same time, she added that the law as it stands now will somehow hamper the actions of prosecutors, particularly in the case of organized crime files – illicit drugs trafficking, human trafficking, and particularly cyber crime, in that such data have to be preserved for six months only.
 
Another aspect to which Kovesi pointed regards the fact that requesting such data, including the phone listing, may only be performed for serious crimes, as mentioned in Law 39/2003 concerning the fight against organized crime, while other serious crimes, such as robberies, car thefts or the disappearance of underage – in which case such data would be useful to establish where the disappeared are – along with other investigations are exempted from the rule.
 
Law 298/2009 concerning the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks came into force on January 20, 2009.
 
Under the new law, which provides for the monitoring of the entire mobile phone traffic, short messages (SMS) and electronic communications, the recording of the contents thereof is forbidden. When allowed, the recordings should be kept for six months.
 
Providers of such communications services – mobile telephony, SMS or e-mail – are placed under the obligation to record the details needed for the identification of the destination of phone calls, SMS and e-mails, the date, time and place where the communications are made and the type of devices in use.
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