German Bundestag adopts strict customer identification requirements for telecommunication
On 24 June 2016, the German Bundestag adopted a draft "Act on a better exchange of information in
combating international terrorism" ("draft Act").
The draft Act introduces various amendments to several federal laws in the fields of state security,
intelligence services, law enforcement and telecommunications.
By amending the German Telecommunications Act ("TKG"), the draft Act aims to introduce express
verification obligations for providers of prepaid mobile telecommunication services. To date, providers
of electronic communications services on a commercial basis that "assign phone numbers or other
identifiers" or "provide connections to phone numbers or other identifiers assigned by a third party"
are required to retain and store certain customer data (Sec. 111 TKG). This includes, inter alia, the
phone number or other identifier, the name and address of the owner of the connection, the date of
birth (in case of natural persons), in the case of fixed-line connections the connection's address, and
the IMEI of the device, where a device is provided. Until now the TKG does not expressly specify
whether or not a verification of data to be collected under Sec. 111 TKG is required by law. The
German regulator (BNetzA) has taken the position that a verification of data is mandatory and opens
administrative proceedings against providers that are found to store incorrect data, obligating them to
implement suitable verification mechanisms.
The draft Act now expressly makes it an administrative offence if a provider fails to verify the data to
be collected (Sec. 149 para. 1 no. 29 TKG).
In the case of mobile prepaid services, the draft Act furthermore establishes an explicit obligation for
providers not only to collect and to store, but also to verify the customer data prior to activating the
SIM cards. The draft Act sets out a list of mandatory verification methods, according to which
providers must demand presentation of a passport or similar government-issued photo ID for
verification purposes. In addition, the draft Act empowers BNetzA to impose verification methods by
way of an administrative ruling. These alternative verification measures (for example web-based
identification solutions) need to be based on a government-issued photo ID as well. The draft Act
aims to allow appropriate verification mechanisms in particular for the sale of prepaid services, where
the physical presentation of an ID document is not feasible. Providers will not be compensated for the
collection and storage of data. The draft Act foresees a grace period of 12 months after the
amendment of the TKG has entered into force.
Following the Bundestag's approval, the bill has now been sent to the Bundesrat (the second
chamber of the German Parliament). It is expected that the draft Act will be signed into law within the
next few weeks.
For more information, please contact Joachim Scherer or Caroline Heinickel.