Tue, Jan. 16, 2007

Access to Data at ISP

CK - Washington.   Piercing the layers of personal data protection in Germany, and much of the European Union, depends on the statute that applies to the origin, type and location of data. Generally, the law of personal information is person-centric. Data belong to the person whom they identify. To protect privacy, access to data is consent-driven unless a statute provides an exception. A Berlin appellate court addressed recently the access by one person to the personal data of another held by the ISP of the target.

The parties looked at the general data protection statute, Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, copyright law and a more specific data protection statute for telecommunication services providers. The court concluded that only the last statute could apply because it controls conclusively access to the personal customer data stored with an ISP. The statute allows the government to pierce the data protection measures for criminal investigations and does not grant others such access.

In examining the copyright statute and the general data protection statute, the court determined that they cannot overcome the limitations of the telecommunications data protection statute. In addition, the principles embodied in the equity-like section 242 of the German Civil Code cannot serve to carve out an exception from the clear legislative intent applied to ISPs, the Kammergericht Court of Appeals held in the matter 10 U 262/05 on September 29, 2006.

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