Yahoo is not bound to give personal data to Belgian authorities

By EDRi · July 14, 2010

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Deutsch: [Yahoo muss belgischen Behörden keine personenbezogenen Daten übergeben |]

The Belgian Court of Appeal of Gand ruled on 30 June 2010 that Yahoo was not
obliged to hand over personal data of its users to the Belgian authorities,
in a case where the first instance had issued a contrary ruling.

In 2009, following a cybercrime investigation by the Belgian police, it was
discovered that a group was using Yahoo e-mail addresses to commit online
fraud. The members of the group stole data from various companies and used
the data to order goods without paying. Yahoo was requested by the Belgian
Public Prosecutor to hand over the IDs related to the e-mail addresses used
by the group but the company refused to comply and, on 2 March 2009,
received a 55 000 euro fine from a Termonde judge who also imposed a daily
penalty fee of 10 000 euro in case of non-compliance with the judgment. The
court did not consider Yahoo’s argument that it was not subject to the
Belgian law as it had no legal entity in Belgium and did not store any
customer data in Belgium.

The appeal court has now decided that there was no legal basis for the 2009
ruling against the company. “There is not enough evidence that the providers
of free of charge e-mail addresses are also electronic communication
services. In other words, there is no proof that Yahoo deals directly with
sending the signals. It has no control over the network as an e-mail
provider” said the decision of the Appeal Court.

It is reported that, throughout the whole process, no attempt was ever made
by the Belgian authorities to use existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to
obtain the requested data via recognised legal channels.

Gand: Yahoo! acquitted in appeal for not having transmitted data to justice
(only in French, 30.06.2010)

A Win for Yahoo! And for Privacy in Belgium (6.07.2010)

EDRi-gram: Yahoo penalised in Belgium for not disclosing personal data