CJEU rules e-mail is not a telecom service

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) repealed the German telecom regulator’s decision to require Google’s e-mail service Gmail to register as a telecom service and comply with telecom service obligations. Google alleged that it does not provide communication services because its e-mail service relies on Internet service providers (ISPs) to transmit and receive messages. The CJEU was referred by a German court to decide whether web-based email services fits under the EU law definition of electronic communications service. The court ruled that Google’s involvement in transmitting e-mail messages is not sufficient to be considered an electronic communication service. Gmail does not provide Internet access, which is the key aspect of the definition of an electronic communication service. The court stressed that differently from Skype, that had an agreement with telecom companies to deliver calls to telephones, Google only uploads and receives data from ISPs.

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