Internet censorship in Germany

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Internet censorship in Germany is practised by law as well as the effect of some court decisions. An example of content censored by law is the removal of web sites from Google search results that deny the holocaust, which is a felony under German law.

In June 2009, the Bundestag passed the Access Impediment Act, or Zugangserschwerungsgesetz[1] that introduced Internet blocking of sites found to distribute child pornography.[2][3] Against the backdrop of an intense political debate, the law did not come into force until federal elections in September 2009 changed the setup of the governing coalition. In talks between the new governing parties CDU and FDP, it was agreed that no blocking would be implemented for one year, focusing on take-down efforts instead. After one year the success of the deletion policy would be reviewed.[4] The governing parties ultimately decided in April 2011 to repeal the law altogether.[5]

Most cases of internet censorship in Germany, however, occur after state court rulings. One example is a 2009 court order, forbidding German Wikipedia to disclose the identity of Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber, two criminals convicted of the murder of the Bavarian actor Walter Sedlmayr. In another case, Wikipedia.de (an Internet domain run by Wikimedia Deutschland) was prohibited from pointing to the actual Wikipedia content. The court order was as a temporary injunction in a case filed by politician Lutz Heilmann over claims in his German Wikipedia article regarding his past involvement with the former German Democratic Republic's intelligence service Stasi.[6]

The first known case of internet censorship in Germany occurred in 1996, when the Verein zur Förderung eines Deutschen Forschungsnetzes banned some IP addresses from internet access.[7]

Germany bans content showing Far Right material as well as content protected by the GEMA. YouTube for instance blocks various videos including music videos and video game screencasts which contain protected music tracks within the game. YouTube also doesn't show videos which are banned: they don't appear on channel pages or in search results, German users can only discover these videos if they are part of a playlist but will not be able to watch them anyway as they are blocked. The site Grooveshark is not available in Germany at all because of issues with the GEMA. Just as the issues with copyright protected material, Germany also blocks content containing Far Right material -– even Twitter has blocked a user's account in Germany.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (German) Gesetz zur Erschwerung des Zugangs zu kinderpornographischen Inhalten in Kommunikationsnetzen
  2. ^ (German) www.bmwi.de. Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie - Pressestelle: "Kabinett beschließt Netzsperren gegen Kinderpornos", 22.4.2009. Retrieved 2009-06-19
  3. ^ (German) bundestag.de. "Namentliche Abstimmung: Bekämpfung von Kinderpornografie", 18.6.2009. Retrieved 2009-06-19
  4. ^ Deutsche Welle New German government reaches key internet security agreements
  5. ^ German Internet blocking law to be withdrawn, EDRi-gram (newsletter by European Digital Rights), 6 April 2011.
  6. ^ Efroni, Zohar (16 November 2008). "German Court Orders to Block wikipedia.de Due to Offending Article". Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  7. ^ (German) www.nadir.org