Thanks to communications networks, users are available wherever they are. In order to create a connection between the caller and recipient of the call, the position of each mobile phone in the communications network has to be tracked in real time at the base station level. The nature of communications makes location data necessary.
A location-based service means processing location data obtained through the communications network in order to offer an added-value service not intended for communication. For these purposes, the term does not mean positioning carried out with other technologies, such as satellite positioning (e.g. GPS).
Location-based services are typically content services based on location data (e.g. where is the nearest pharmacy?) or are used to locate users or objects (e.g. where are my friends or delivery vehicles).
The processing of location data for the provision of location-based services requires the consent of the individual being located. Such consent can also be withdrawn. Locating people without their consent is only permitted in emergencies by order of the police or rescue authorities.
The consent does not have to be given in writing. The essential thing is that the user understands the nature of the service when accepting the positioning included in it. When the purpose of a location-based service is to track the movements of an individual, the provider must be able to demonstrate the existence of consent at all times.
Subscribers can also prohibit operators from processing their location data for purposes of positioning. In such cases, location-based services cannot be provided for the subscription even if consent has been given for an individual service.
The consent is obtained by the provider of the added-value service. The name and contact details of the service provider must be easily available. In addition, the service provider must describe the accuracy, purposes and duration of the location-based service in advance and state whether the location data can be disclosed to third parties.
The source of emergency calls can be located even if the individual being located has not given his or her consent or has prohibited the processing of location data. It is permitted to determine the location of the subscription from which an emergency call was made. If, in the justified opinion of the emergency authorities, the caller is in evident distress or immediate danger, the location of any subscription can be determined.