Romanian state to pay damages after blocking of app tracking timber transports, court rules
The Bucharest Tribunal has ruled that the Water and Forests Ministry needs to pay RON 440, 070 (almost EUR 100,000) to Indaco Systems after the blocking of the app Inspectorul Pădurii (The Forest Inspector), Adevarul reported.
The app, developed by Indaco Systems, allowed citizens to track timber transports. The users of the app could determine if a timber transport was legal or not, and alert the authorities if it’s the case.
The court’s decision is not final and can be challenged.
Environment NGOs have welcomed the ruling.
Volunteer Bogdan Micu designed the Inspectorul Pădurii app in 2016, during the time of the technocrat government of Dacian Cioloș. The app was a more efficient alternative to the app Radarul Pădurilor (The Forests’ Radar), developed by the ministry in a partnership with the Special Telecommunications Service (STS). The Forests’ Radar allowed users to call 112 and learn if a timber transport was legal or not. Launched in 2014, the app had a low efficiency, with 75% of the signaled transports being legal, Adevarul reported.
Meanwhile, the Forest Inspector app, launched in 2016, let users check directly from their phone if a timber transport was legal or not by typing in the registration number of the car transporting the timber. If the transport was not found in the system, there was a possibility that it was not legal, and the user could call 112. The app proved very successful, with over 60,000 downloads. According to Greenpeace, within a year of its launch, forestry crimes dropped by 47%.
A year after its launch, minister Doina Pană invoked irregularities in the contract for the development of the app and in the timber tracking system SUMAL. Within a short time, the apps could no longer be updated with the information needed for them to be efficient and users could no longer report illegal transports. Within a few months, from almost 6,000 reports only 17 proved to be related to illegal lodging activity.