The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has set strict rules for EU member states with regard to location determination: According to a ruling by the Court of Justice, telecommunications companies must in any case provide information on the location of the caller directly and free of charge in the event of a 112 emergency call. This also applies if calls were received from mobile phones without SIM cards, the Luxembourg judges declared on Thursday (Case C-417/18). The EU Member States would have to ensure the implementation of this regulation.
The background is a case from Lithuania: In a violent crime, a 17-year-old girl was kidnapped in a suburb, raped and burnt alive in the trunk of a car, according to the ECJ.
While she was locked up in the trunk of her car, she called for help a dozen times with a mobile phone under the Europe-wide emergency number 112, it is said. However, no location data had been transmitted to the Lithuanian emergency centre. It had not been possible to determine whether the telephone had a SIM card and why the number had not been displayed.
Members of the 17-year-old family sued the State of Lithuania for damages. They claimed that the country had failed to ensure proper implementation of the EU directive on location finding for calls to the pan-European emergency number 112. An administrative court in Vilnius referred the case to the ECJ.
EuGH granted states “certain discretion”
The EU’s top judges now stressed that under the EU’s location data directive, all calls to 112 must be accompanied by location data – emergency calls from mobile phones without SIM cards are no exception. Data accuracy may vary depending on the country and mobile network. In any case, the police, firefighters and ambulances must be able to use the information.
In Germany, according to the Federal Network Agency, the location must be transmitted as a geographical coordinate. For mobile phone calls, the area of the cell in which the connection was established can also be specified.
Emergency calls from mobile phones without SIM cards are not allowed, the authority explained. This regulation was adopted in 2009 to counter misuse of the emergency number. Previously, the number had been used to demonstrate the functionality of used equipment. Whether there was a need for action in Germany as a result of the ECJ ruling had to be examined.
The concrete legal dispute on which the ECJ ruling is based must now be decided by the judiciary in Lithuania.