Bulgarian MPs passed amendments to the Electronic Communications Act at second reading on March 26 to replace the data retention provisions scrapped earlier this month by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the bulk collection of telecommunications data and storing it for 12 months was unconstitutional.
The bill of amendments was passed using Parliament’s “express track” procedure, with the first and second reading votes held on the same day.
Under the amended law, telecoms will have to collect traffic data and store it for a period of six months. Such data could only be used “in the interests of national security” or to investigate and prevent serious crimes, with the law also expressly prohibiting the retention of any data about the contents of electronic communication.
Law enforcement agencies would be required a court order to access the carrier data, with every such request logged in a register that would not be made public. The destruction of collected data would be overseen by Bulgaria’s personal data protection watchdog and the courts.
In declaring the data retention provisions unconstitutional on March 12, Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court echoed, in its ruling, some of the conclusions reached by the European Court of Justice, which scrapped the 2006 EU directive on data retention in April 2014 (that ruling prompting Bulgaria’s Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev to lodge the formal complaint against the data retention provision of the Bulgarian law).
The court also said, in its reasoning, that the Bulgarian data retention provisions went beyond “the flaws and imperfections of the EU directive” and were “further compounded” by a vague legislative framework.