Data publication consent extends across other EU Member States

The EU’s harmonised regulatory framework makes it possible to ensure the same respect for personal data protection.

In a well-thought out judgment delivered this week, the European Court of Justice declared that the European Universal Service Directive covers all requests made by undertakings established in a Member State other than that in which the undertakings which assign telephone numbers to subscribers are established.

The Belgian company European Directory Assistance (EDA) offers directory enquiry services and directories accessible from Belgian territory. It requested the undertakings which assign telephone numbers to subscribers in the Netherlands (namely, Tele2, Ziggo and Vodafone Libertel) to make available to it data relating to their subscribers, relying in that regard on an obligation provided for under Dutch law.

Since those undertakings considered that they were not required to provide the data in question to an undertaking established in another Member State, they refused to provide the data requested.

The College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven (Administrative Court of Appeal for Trade and Industry, Netherlands), which was ruling on the dispute, referred some questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

The court wished to know, among other things, whether it was necessary to provide subscribers with a choice of whether or not to give their consent depending on the country in which the undertaking requesting that data provides its services.

As regards the question, the Court referred to its previous case-law. Where a subscriber has been informed by the undertaking which assigned him a telephone number of the possibility that his personal data may be passed to a third-party undertaking, with a view to being published in a public directory, and he has consented to that publication, renewed consent is not needed from the subscriber at issue for the passing of the same data to another undertaking, if it is guaranteed that the data in question will not be used for purposes other than those for which the data were collected with a view to their first publication.

Consequently, it is not necessary for the undertaking assigning telephone numbers to its subscribers to differentiate in the request for consent addressed to the subscriber according to the Member State to which the data concerning him could be sent.

Please click here for the full judgment of this case (C-536/15)