Row over the GEO on the prepaid phone cards

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The Government has adopted an emergency ordinance compelling citizens to buy prepaid telephone cards only based on the ID paper. The move has been taken after the tragedy in Caracal, when a 15yo teen girl was kidnapped and allegedly raped and murdered, with several phone calls from a prepaid card being made to the girl’s parents immediately after the girl’s disappearance. Moreover, as she had a prepaid phone card herself, Alexandra Macesanu’s location could not be tracked in real time.

According to the new GEO, the mobile phone providers have the duty to collect the identification data of the SIM card user. The decision will come into force as of January 1, 2020 and will be mandatory for those who buy prepaid phone cards after this date. At the same time, the citizens who had bought these prepaid cards before the GEO is enforced will have to declare their ID data until September 1, 2020. Starting that date, those who are not complying with this provision will be banned from using the mobile phone services.

The Government spokesperson Nelu Barnu explained that the prepaid phone cards will be sold only after the buyers provide their ID papers “to improve the service of tracking a person who is calling emergency services”.

The people who already have a prepaid telephone card, but also those who are buying one until December 31, 2019, will have eight months to deliver their ID information. The data will be delivered to the National Single Service for Emergency Calls and used in compliance with the provisions of collecting personal data, the Executive further said.

Another provision of the GEO is referring to the increase of the fines for false calls to 112. Therefore, if one is making false 112 calls is facing fines five times higher than the existing ones, from RON 1,000 to RON 5,000.

However, Ombudsman Renate Weber, has cast a shade of doubt on the GEO today. Weber announced the Ombudsman institution will analyse the text of the GEO and that if it is proved to break the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the storage and use of data, the ordinance will be referred to CCR again.

A version of what we had seen of this GEO contained nothing of what the Court had previously decided. If it is true, then we’ll file a constitutional challenge”, Weber said, reminding that CCR’s ruling stipulates certain rules for who is using and storing personal data and for how long.

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