Digital Law Up (to) date: Anonymous purchase of a prepaid mobile phone is no longer possible

The Belgian Constitutional Court validated the law of September 1, 2016, removing the possibility of purchasing a prepaid mobile phone card anonymously.

The Belgian Constitutional Court validated the Law of September 1, 2016, removing the possibility of purchasing a prepaid mobile phone card anonymously, subject to the adoption of a law clarifying a point (the decision is available in Dutch and in French).

Before this law, it was possible to buy a prepaid mobile phone card completely anonymously. After the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Belgian authorities discovered that this means of communication had been used by the terrorists. Consequently, the legislator decided to lift this anonymity by imposing, under certain conditions, the obligation for banking establishments to provide the identification data of the person who bought a prepaid card.

The Constitutional Court rejected the argument that the right to privacy had been violated, finding that the interference was necessary for the objective pursued and proportionate (in particular because it was sufficiently protected by adequate guarantees). However, he stressed that delegation by law to the executive did not meet the minimum requirements. In other words, the Belgian legislator must provide directly in the law for additional details on the identification data that can be processed, without being able to delegate this task to the executive. The Constitutional Court therefore maintains the effects of the law until the adoption of these details, no later than December 31, 2022.

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