The Belgian Constitutional Court has validated the law of 1 September 2016, removing the possibility to buy a prepaid mobile phone card anonymously, subject to the adoption of a law clarifying one 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 terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Belgian authorities discovered that this means of communication had been used by the terrorists. Therefore, the legislator decided to remove this anonymity by imposing, subject to a number of conditions, an obligation for banking institutions 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, considering that the interference was necessary for the objective pursued and proportionate (in particular because it was sufficiently protected by adequate guarantees). However, it emphasized that a delegation by law to the executive branch did not meet the minimum requirements. In other words, the Belgian legislator must provide directly in the law additional details on the identification data that can be processed, without being able to delegate this task to the executive. The Constitutional Court therefore upholds the effects of the law until these clarifications are adopted, at the latest on 31 December 2022.
This article was co-authored by Edouard Cruysmans in his capacity of Professional Support Lawyer at Stibbe.