Slovenia enacted net neutrality, but almost made a step toward Orwellian police state

Slovenia enacted net neutrality, but almost made a step toward Orwellian police state

These days Slovenia is under the pressure of constant protests against corrupt politicians and a government crisis which pushed everything else to the edge of media attention. Even the enactment of the Electronic Communication Act (ZEKom-1) which almost gave authorities a right to unconstitutionally snoop on Slovenian citizens.

It all began at the beginning of June when the European Commission (EC) decided to ask the European Court of Justice to fine Slovenia because it did not implement revised EU telecom rules . The Slovenian minister in charge promised to prepare new law as soon as possible.

The media reported on the new ZEKom-1 and its proposed enactment of net neutrality, but members of Pirate Party, although very happy at the promise of net neutrality which is an important part of party’s program, also noticed that some parts of the proposed act could enable Deep Packet Inspection. In it’s public statement, Pirate Party of Slovenia also stressed its disapproval of data retention.

The real drama started in the beginning of autumn when the Information Commissioner (IC) warned that ZEKom-1, in article 166, paragraph 7 enables authorities to get information about a particular subscriber of electronic communication connection without court order. In her appeal, the IC stressed that this paragraph is in direct violation of article 37 of Slovenian Constitution which guarantees the privacy of correspondence and other means of communication . She also wrote that the paragraph was added AFTER her office checked the proposal of the law for possible irregularities.

The whole affair escalated to the point when IC and the minister in charge quarreled over Twitter about the questionable paragraph . Slovenian media reported that the paragraph was subsequently added at the request of the Slovenian National Intelligence Agency.

Pirate Party of Slovenia issued a statement in which it expressed its support of the IC’s statement and demanded the particular paragraph to be removed from the act. Pirate Party also stressed that it is unacceptable that the paragraph was added in secret, without public debate.

The biggest party of the government coalition SDS, under the pressure of civil society, decided to remove the paragraph from the act. But the whole affair was not over yet. Some ISPs demanded that net neutrality to be removed from the act. Luckily, they didn’t succeed and on 20 December 2012 the representatives in parliament passed the vote in favor of the act and net neutrality.

Featured image: CC BY-SA by AlbertBridge