Germany: BGH publishes decision on data disclosure in civil law proceedings

December 02 13:19 2019 Print This Article

The German Federal Court of Justice (‘BGH’) published, on 26 November 2019, its decision (‘the Decision’) issued, on 24 September 2019, stating that the privacy provisions of the Telemedia Act are applicable to Facebook Messenger. In addition, the Decision highlights that Section 14(3) to (5) of the Telemedia Act, which enables the disclosure of user data by service providers in individual cases and for the enforcement of civil law claims dealing with the violation of absolute rights, constitutes a necessary and proportionate measure in a democratic society to safeguard the enforcement of civil law claims in accordance with Article 23(1)(j) of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) (‘GDPR’).

In particular, the BGH stated that the scope of Article 6(4) of the GDPR, allowing for data processing for purposes other than that for which personal data have been collected, is not limited to processing activities based on a legal obligation or public interest, pursuant to Article 6(1)(c) and (e) of the GDPR. Moreover, the BGH found that Article 6(2) and (3) of the GDPR does not conflict with their conclusion, as could be inferred from Recital 50(3) and Article 7 of the GDPR. Furthermore, the BGH found concerns that EU Member States might unlawfully assume regulatory powers that they did not receive in Articles 6(1) to (3) of the GDPR, via Article 6(4) of the GDPR to be unjustified.

Finally, the BGH found the legal situation to be clear and did not refer the matter to the European Court of Justice under Article 267 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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