FastMail apps and signup available in Germany again

For the past two months, FastMail has been rejecting new signups from Germany, and our app has been unavailable in the German app stores. We took these actions out of caution after receiving letters from the German Bundesnetzagentur requiring us to register with them as an email provider.

Until we obtained legal advice, we did not know whether we could comply with German requirements while fulfilling our obligations under Australian law.

Having conferred with lawyers in Germany, we have confidence that we can safely register, which allows us to provide apps in German stores again, and to accept new signups from German users.

From our lawyers:

you are required to notify your company and your business as a “commercial, publicly available telecommunications service. Section 6 of the German Telecommunications Act (TKG) provides the legal basis for this notification requirement: "Any person operating a public telecommunications network on a commercial basis or providing a publicly available telecommunications service on a profit-oriented basis shall notify the Bundesnetzagentur without undue delay of beginning to provide, of providing with differences or of ceasing to provide his activity and of any changes in his undertaking. Such notification requires written form."

you are not required to offer interception facilities. Most of the obligations following from part 7 (section 110 and 113) of the TKG are only relevant if the provider has more than 100,000 German customers. So it’s misleading if the Bundesnetzagentur talks about “100,000 customers” without mentioning that this means German customers only.

We currently have significantly fewer than 100,000 customers in Germany. We will re-assess our legal situation when we get closer to 100,000 German customers as international law in this area is changing quickly, and the situation may have changed again by the time those clauses become material.

FastMail continues to be an Australian company subject to Australian law as described in our privacy policy. Our understanding of Australian law is that it is illegal for us to directly provide any customer data or metadata to law enforcement authorities from outside Australia. If we receive requests from the Bundesnetzagentur we will follow our existing process for all foreign requests and refer them to their country’s mutual assistance treaty with Australia.

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