European Court of Justice: Personal data must be deleted

Status: 10/27/2022 3:06 PM

If the customer wants it, the phone provider must ensure that their personal data that has been passed is deleted. The customer does not have to ask each company individually – the European Court of Justice decided this.

Mass deletion of personal data from directories such as phone books may become much easier in the future. If phone providers pass customer data to other providers and search engines, they must also make sure to delete entries there if customers ask them to do so. According to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, they do not have to apply for deletion from each company individually.

Lawsuit against phone company Proximus

The background to the ruling is a lawsuit against the Belgian phone provider Proximus, which provides, among other things, telephone information services and directories with personal data such as names, addresses and phone numbers. These are transmitted to Proximus by other providers, and Proximus also forwards them to other service providers and search engines such as Google.

A customer is now suing because his new phone number was in such evidence without his consent. Proximus responded back, arguing that the customer’s consent was not required for his data to be published in phone directories. Instead, they will have to apply to not be on the list using the so-called withdrawal procedure. As long as this does not happen, the data does not need to be deleted.

ECJ: Customers must agree

The European Court of Justice did not follow this reasoning. Before publishing data, customers must give their consent. With this consent, other companies can also process the data, provided they pursue the same purpose. Likewise, it is sufficient to revoke your consent only once – either for your own service provider or for one of the other companies using the data. Phone providers are then obligated to forward the cancellation and ensure that the data is deleted.

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(Case C-129/21)

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