The European Court of Justice Rules That Phone Companies Are Not Obliged to Supply Private Data for Clients Who Download Material from the Internet

13 February 2008

With this decision the European Court of Justice responds with a reference for a preliminary ruling proposed by Madrid Commercial Court no. 5 based on a law suit between Promusicae and Télefonica.

The Promusicae association (music and audiovisual producers and editors) asked for a ruling forcing Télefonica to provide the names, addresses and Internet connection and downloading dates for those clients whose IP address was known. The ultimate goal was to obtain the necessary information for clients who may have been downloading material for free.

Télefonica opposed the claim with the argument that according to the LSSI (Law for Telecommunications Societies), the communication of personal data is only permitted in the line of a criminal investigation or for reasons of public security and national defence issues, and not for civil claims or preparation of same.

For that reason the commercial court of Madrid asked for a reference for a preliminary ruling of the European Court of Justice, who has now determined that IP addresses are not to be provided as they are considered personal data. Furthermore it ruled that the European Union member states have the duty to guarantee their confidentiality regardless of the reason for the data transfer, only allowing exceptions for national defence, public security or the investigation of crimes.

The decision is available at:


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