In a statement read by the president of the TC, João Caupers, the judges understood that the rules would result in a “restriction of the fundamental rights to the inviolability of correspondence and communications and the protection of personal data in the context of the user of computers, as specific manifestations of the right to reserve intimacy of private life, in terms harmful to the principle of personality”.
At the origin of the judgment formulated by the TC judges are the norms of article 5 of decree 167/XIV, of the Assembly of the Republic, which introduces amendments to article 17 of the Cybercrime Law.
The current version of the legal regime for the seizure of e-mail and similar communication records provides that this is “a judge's exclusive competence”, while the document approved in parliament points only to the “competent judicial authority”, a designation that may include also the Public Ministry (MP).
According to the note read to the media by João Caupers, "there are still relevant changes" regarding the definition of the object of seizures and the reference to article 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which covers the legal regime on the seizure of correspondence.
The preventive abstract inspection process by the TC had been requested by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on 4 August. In a note published on the website of the Presidency of the Republic, the head of State then said that “the legislator took the opportunity to change norms not directly addressed by the European directive”.
The absence of prior control by a judge regarding the ordering or validation of the seizure of communication is, according to the President in the request sent to the TC, an alteration that “does not constitute a mere 'adjustment', but a substantial change in the paradigm of access to content of electronic communications, assuming that this access belongs, in the first place, to the Public Ministry, which only subsequently presents it to the judge”.