While telephone operators are waiting for the approval of a Data Protection Act which should consolidate and partially amend the existing Italian legislation on data protection (its approval procedure has already started and the final act may be adopted by the end of this year), the Italian Supervisory Authority (“Garante”) is focusing its attention on the telecommunications sector which, along with the financial services sector, represents one of the “hot” sectors for data protection.
Recently, on the occasion of a number of decisions to be taken with regard to the application of the Italian data protection legislation in the telecommunication sector, the Garante clarified the content of the data protection laws, especially in relation to the data subject’s right of access.
Once again the Garante reaffirmed the transparency principle connected with the right of the subscriber of telecommunication lines (phone lines and internet lines) to obtain all numbers dialled through its lines and condemned a telecommunication provider that did not meet this request. In fact, without prejudice to the obligation of the telecommunication provider of not displaying the bill report in the first mailing, the last three figures of the numbers called by the relevant line (legislative decree no. 171/1998), the subscriber is entitled to request, and obtain from the provider all the numbers called from phone/internet lines in two circumstances:
a) when the subscriber needs to verify the correctness and legitimacy of the charges (especially when the calls are made within the same phone district and therefore, the last three figures are relevant to distinguish the numbers called) or in contentious circumstances relating to call durations;
b) when the subscriber intends to exercise his/her right of access according to Article 13 of the Italian data protection law (no. 675/1996). In this event, the subscriber is not required to provide a reason for the request of any information on its subsequent use.
New measures of the Garante in the telecommunication sector are expected in the near future in order to provide rules which can be applied generally. The future measures are likely to concern in particular:
the assurance of confidentiality to the users of a telecommunication line, for instance, by using alternative ways of payment (pre-paid cards) to avoid the inclusion of the relevant calls in the invoice system;
the regulation to display the calling ID and the possibility of obtaining the callers number even when withheld, as in the case of unsolicited calls;
the conditions for the activation of phone services and associated services (e.g. info SMS and notice of reconnection of a called disconnected number).