Location data standards clarified for emergency calls

Out-Law News | 09 Sep 2019 | 9:22 am | 1 min. read

Telecoms companies must ensure details on the location of people making phone calls to the emergency services within the EU are made immediately available to call handlers for free where it is technically feasible to do so, the EU's highest court has ruled.

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) confirmed that the data disclosure requirement applies to emergency calls made from mobile devices that are not fitted with a SIM card.

The CJEU clarified how EU laws set out in the universal services directive on electronic communications networks and services shoulhttp:d be interpreted.

The EU court was asked for its views by a court in Lithuania, which has been considering a dispute over the scope of telecom companies' information disclosure obligations after a girl who was kidnapped was found dead after mobile calls she earlier made to the '112' single European emergency call number could not be traced.

According to the CJEU, each EU country has a "measure of discretion" over the level of accuracy and reliability of the location information they require be met in national law, but the criteria they set "must ensure, within the limits of technical feasibility, that the caller’s position is located as reliably and accurately as is necessary to enable the emergency services usefully to come to the caller’s assistance".

In this case, it is for the Lithuanian court to determine whether the information requirements set in Lithuania law were sufficiently robust based on the CJEU's ruling.

Telecoms law expert Rebecca Trampe-Berger of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The ruling will spark a new debate in many EU member states on how to ensure the localisation of the caller during emergency calls in their respective countries. In particular, the extensive regulations and guidelines set by the respective regulatory authorities will now be questioned as to whether they still meet the requirements now specified by the CJEU."