Admiral fails in legal bid to retrieve Vodafone location data • The Register

Admiral, the UK-based insurance company, was denied lawful access to the location data of a non-customer’s cell phone after claiming it would help decide whether or not an insured commits a crime. fraud.

The previously unnoticed England and Wales Court of Appeal ruling comes as a similar ruling in Germany this week raises questions about the use of the law against third-party technology service providers.

Vodafone did not oppose Admiral’s request for an order from Norwich Pharmacal (NPO) in November 2020 to obtain call tapes from someone who was not an insurance customer – l Admiral’s lawyer told judges cell phones “have allowed people to lie about their fate.”

Rendering their judgment late last month, Justices Baker and Lewis, as well as Judge Francis, upheld an earlier ruling denying the Admiral access to cell site location data about a man’s mother. who held an insurance policy with the company.

Admiral (a trade name of EUI Ltd) had sought an order from Norwich Pharmacal against Vodafone after suspecting that one of its own customers had made a fraudulent insurance claim.

The insured’s home insurance policy allowed him to claim temporary accommodation costs if he had to move from his London address while the damage was being repaired. His insurer believed his (unidentified) client was fraudulently claiming rent from him after moving into a house owned by his parents, following what he said was a water leak in his own home.

Lord Justice Baker said the Admiral believed “that there may be grounds for claiming against the policyholder and his mother for deception and conspiracy. For this reason, before initiating legal proceedings, they wish to obtain information which may clarify whether or not the parents of the policyholder were staying in Milton Keynes between December 2 and 8, 2019, as the insured states in their signed declaration. “

That information was the insured’s mother’s “call records” and “cell site data indicating the location of the phone during the period in question,” as the Court of Appeal said.

The admiral also wanted copies of the “SMS / MMS data”. His Honor Judge Sephton QC, sitting as a judge of the High Court in Manchester, denied the admiral’s legal request last year – even though Vodafone had “indicated that he did not oppose the request. “.

Dismissing the admiral’s case of uncontested appeal (Vodafone did not show up, telling the court he remained ‘neutral’), Lord Justice Baker said:

Norwich Pharmacal prescriptions can only be granted if the Respondent has been involved in some way or another in the alleged wrongdoing. The simple fact of being a witness (like a CCTV operator) does not cross this threshold.

Technical attorney Neil Brown of, who spotted the court ruling and blogged about it, believed that the precedent set by this case “gives ISPs and communications providers a reasonable margin to assert that, although they may have information, they are not just a referral source, available on request, and they must be more closely related to the underlying problem to justify granting an order. ”

And in Germany

Swiss DNS provider Quad9 lost a legal offer last week to suspend an order requiring it to block DNS lookups for the IP addresses of sites Sony Music claimed to host pirated albums.

Quad9 promotes itself as a non-profit organization that strengthens security; the company simply manages a DNS server and blocks searches for addresses on its internal blacklist.

Sony won a Hamburg court injunction this summer after convincing a judge that resolving domain names for sites allegedly hosting copyright-infringing files violated German law.

A statement by a German civil rights campaign group (with a video of ex-Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda) ruled that Quad9 was not entitled to the statutory immunity granted to ISPs in Germany ” because it does not itself route copyright infringing information from A to B, but only provides indirect access to it. “

John Todd, CEO of Quad9, said in a statement, “There are a number of Internet services that we believe are ultimately at serious risk by this ruling, and we will not stop our legal challenges on this. injunction. “®

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