On 19 December 2016, the Belgian Act on “BE-Alert” or “Alert-SMS” was published in the Belgian Official Gazette (Act of 7 December 2016 inserting an Article 106/1 in the Act of 13 June 2005 on electronic communications). This Act describes the legal framework of the system for mass SMS-notifications to the general population, known as “Alert-SMS”, in the event of imminent danger or major disaster, for example, in the event of terrorist attacks.
In such situations, the Crisis Centre will provide the central communications platform of the Federal Public Service Internal Affairs (“BE-Alert”) with messages to be dispersed among the general population and will identify the risk area concerned. Afterwards, the mobile telecom operators will be obliged to send these warning messages to the citizens in the risk area concerned.
The Act also takes into account the privacy of the citizens. The mobile telecom operators are allowed to process the location data of citizens in the risk area concerned in order to enable the distribution of the messages, even without their consent, but these operators must definitively erase these location data as well as the lists with identifiers of these persons as soon as they are no longer required for the distribution of the messages.
The Act has entered into force on 29 December 2016.