In contrast to other European legislation, the Austrian E-Commerce Act (ECG) sets forth a particular obligation of Host Providers to disclose information: Pursuant to Sec. 18 para 4 ECG, Host Providers are obliged to transmit information about their users at the request of third parties, provided that they have an overriding legal interest and can substantiate that knowledge of such information constitutes a material prerequisite for legal prosecution.
Only recently, the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH 6 Ob 226/19g) extended the scope of this duty beyond Host Providers and included other internet providers by applying Sec. 18 para 4 ECG per analogiam, which makes this right to information even more significant.
- Previously, the scope of Sec. 18 para 4 ECG covered operators of online discussion forums, video platforms and social networks that enabled their users to write comments as Host Providers.
- Now, with respect to a webmail service, the OGH explicitly extended the scope of this duty to Access Providers who operate services that are aimed at making content that was entered by users available to third parties, but without gaining knowledge of the content as such.
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