The People’s Advocate proposes the elaboration of regulations regarding the acceptance of the submission of petitions / requests for information with any type of electronic signature
The People’s Advocate recommended to the Commission for Exceptional Situations to elaborate special regulations for the period of emergency, to give the right to submit petitions / requests / requests for information with any type of electronic signature, provided by Law no.91 / 2014 regarding the electronic signature, and if there is no such signature – by indicating some identifiable data. The Ombudsman also proposed extending the validity of electronic signatures that expire during the emergency period.
In an endeavor with such content, submitted to the chairman of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, the Prime Minister Ion Chicu, Mihail Cotorobai mentions that, with the establishment of a special working schedule during the state of emergency, most public authorities requested that petitions and requests of information to be sent only by electronic mail. The Ombudsman announced that he had been notified by persons with locomotor disabilities of the impossibility of submitting applications electronically due to the absence of an electronic signature.
The People’s Advocate welcomes the fact that, in Disposition no.6 of 26.03.2020, item 14, the Commission for Exceptional Situations ordered the extension of the validity of public key certificates for the mobile signature that expires during the state of emergency, but mentions that certain regulations regarding electronic signatures, provided by Law no. 91/2014 on electronic signatures, are not found in the documents issued by the Commission. In this context, Mihail Cotorobai draws attention upon the worsening of the problems previously identified by the People’s Advocate during the state of emergency, related to the observance of the right to petition and access to information. This happens due to the fact that, during this period people can submit petitions / requests for information mostly only in electronic form. The Ombudsman reminds that, in accordance with article 72 paragraph (3) of the Administrative Code, if transmitted in electronic form, the petition must comply with the legal requirements established for an electronic document. And art. 75 establishes that the petition must contain the electronic signature, in the case of transmission in electronic form. Therefore, if no electronic signature is applied, the petition is not examined.
Based on the information published by the Information Technology and Cyber Security Service, the electronic signatures, provided by Law no. 91/2014 on the electronic signature, are issued against payment. The price of qualified advanced electronic signatures is 310 MDL for individuals, which can be used in relations with public authorities.
The Ombudsman points out that during this period, when the only way to submit applications / requests for information to the authorities is in electronic form, people who do not hold an electronic signature are not enabled to obtain it, and those who cannot extend its period validity, in case the signature expires.
The People’s Advocate considers that in the circumstances described, proactive measures are required to ensure the enforcement of the right to petition for all persons, in particular for those at high risk of vulnerability (such as, disabled people, elderly people, people without any source for living). The Ombudsman reiterates that all persons, without any discrimination, including those belonging to socially vulnerable groups, must be able to enforce their right to petition and the right to information without hindrance.
2020 /04 /16
Department for Promotion
of Human Rights and Communication
Department for Public Policies and Law