March 27, 2008
Ever since the Septuagint it is well-known in Europe that laws are difficult to translate and are subject to many interpretations, especially if they do not have a divine source. The acquis communautaire has sometimes very strange, almost “heretic” adaptations in the Union. Let’s have a look at Bulgaria’s data retention law.
According to the Transitions Online, some Bulgarian bloggers have a sour nostalgic feeling as if the state would be spying on them. “Under an EU-wide directive adopted in 2006, Internet and communications providers must retain information – such as the source and destination of electronic communications, and the type of device used – for up to two years. The law is intended to establish what information service providers must give to the authorities in their investigations of major crimes. The Bulgairan text of the directive was issued by the State Agency for Information Technologies and Communications, known in Bulgarian as DAITS”. There is a little bug in the Bulgarian transposition of the community law: the word ‘serious’ was omitted before the word ‘crime’ and thus data retention is applicable to any forms of misdemeanour, for instance, blogging about a flash mob that was not recognized by the Bulgarian authorities as a lawful political demonstration. The methods are somewhat similar to the practices shown in the popular movie The Life of Others (Leben der Anderen). The misbehaving blogger has to sign a document in front of the authority a “statement of warning” that his website would be monitored by the authorities, because he iolated the social order and showed disrespect to society.
Although directives are often cited as laws that give flexibility to member states to work out their national solutions to a regulatory problem in the name of subsidiarity, an uneven level of transposition may degrade the integrity of the whole acquis communautaire. Regulations on the other hand are community laws that must be applied with the same text all over Europe. I think that we have not yet reached the correct balance in Europe. In this case the Bulgarian bloggers would be better of with a regulation.
Update: Bogdan Manolea writes that Germany and the UK also have very dubious interpretations of this law.Author : Dániel Antal