What happened anyway?
On February 5th, 2020 the Higher Administrative Court of Münster issued a court ruling that the Gmail service offered by Google is not a telecommunications service. The decision (Az. 13 A 17/16) was justified as follows: In order to act as a telecommunications service i. S. v. To apply Section 3 No. 24 TKG, Gmail would have to transmit signals entirely or predominantly. Although Google operates its own network infrastructure in Germany. However, this would primarily be used for YouTube and the search engine and not for the transmission of signals. When sending and receiving e-mails, Google’s activity is limited to assigning the IP addresses of the end devices to the e-mail addresses, breaking down messages into data packets and feeding them into the open Internet or receiving them from there and forwarding them to the recipients .
The Federal Network Agency was therefore obliged to remove Gmail as a telecommunications service from the public directory. This resolves the long-term dispute that began in 2012 between the Federal Network Agency and Google. The federal network agency wanted to oblige Google to register Gmail as a telecommunications service. Google, on the other hand, sued the Cologne Administrative Court, was unsuccessful and appealed to the Higher Administrative Court, which submitted the question to the ECJ. The ECJ did not regard Gmail as a telecommunications service in its judgment issued on June 13, 2019 (Az. C-193/18). The OVG Münster agreed with its judgment of February 5th, 2020.