Background to the case

Two subject contract the prepay telephone service with a telecommunication enterprise. When signing up the contract the subjects were compelled to give their personal data, such as: telephone number, date of birth, name and address.

In accordance with the German telecommunications law, the telecom enterprise are liable of gathering and storing the personal data of all the clients, including those of prepaid services.

In some cases those personal data can be shared with the some public authorities  entrusted with public security.

The data subjects lodge a constitutional complaint against the wording of the relevant law. The German government reasoned that the law was indeed a intromission in the subjects privacy right. Nevertheless, the intromission had been limited by law, followed a legitimate interest, it was constricted to the gathering of strictly necessary for the identification of the clients, it has a limited period of storage and last but not least, it has enough security measures to grant the lawfulness of the processing against any abuse.

The court was satisfied that the investigation tools.

The Court accepted that investigative tools have to adapt to changes in the media when it comes to tackling crime and terrorism. Taking into account the room for manoeuvre of the EEMM the court found that the obligation to store the data of all clients was an adequate response to the changes that are taking place in communications.

So Germany, having implemented the appropriate protectionist measures and guarantees, had not exceeded its margin of appreciation in choosing the means to achieve the legitimate objectives of protecting national security and fighting crime. The Court concluded that the storage of the personal data of the data subjects had been proportionate and necessary for a democratic society. There was no contravention of the ECHR.

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