German ISP told to cough up customer's details

No court order required

German ISPs may have to provide customer data to law enforcement agencies without a court order. The latest issue of the German specialist journal New Law Weekly cites a ruling by the District Court in Stuttgart, in which telecom giant T-Online was asked to hand over details of an unknown customer who was suspected of trading porn. All the police had was an IP address.

Initially, T-Mobile refused to hand over details, arguing there was no written court order, which is mandatory under the German Telecommunications Act. The District Court, however, rejected the complaint and said there was enough reason to believe that the person behind the IP address was responsible for the distribution of porn.

The implications of this ruling are uncertain. The big question is whether ISPs in the future may have to bow to the demands of holders of music or video rights. So far, that hasn't been the case. Recently, the German Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt-on-the-Main rejected the claim by a music group to hand over the name of a customer who allegedly ran an illegal music server. ®

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