Federal Council wants to regulate OTT services
The Federal Council (upper house of the German parliament – Bundesrat) adopted a resolution on 22 April 2016 requesting the federal government to revise the regulatory framework for telecommunications with respect to “messaging services such as WhatsApp, Line and Telegram”. It is calling for the federal government to adapt the German Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz – TKG) to accommodate increased digitalisation and the associated “new” services.
The Bundesrat has now opted for a “more equal treatment” of OTTs and other telecommunications services, arguing that it must be ensured that a sufficient level of protection applies to users of OTT services, above all with respect to their traffic data and communication content. The Bundesrat also said it was today not transparent for users whether statutory regulations governed their service and if so which statutory regulations apply.
In order to provide optimal support for the digitalisation process in Germany, i.e. to exploit economic benefits and take the necessary protective measures, the federal government has in principle already created a political framework for action with its “Digital Agenda 2014-2017”. Also, the Cologne Administrative Court with a judgment of 11 November 2015 relating to Gmail held that OTT services in principle fall under the term “telecommunications services” used in the German Telecommunications Act and are therefore subject to regulation. The judgment is, however, not yet final; it has been reported that Google has filed an appeal. The Bundesrat therefore apparently sees the need for prompt action on the part of the legislator. The federal government is required to present a progress report on this in autumn 2016.
For further questions: Please contact: Pascal Schumacher
Practice Group: Telecommunications
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