Action against governmental censorship in Germany

By EDRi · January 29, 2003

EDRI-member FITUG (Forderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft) launched an urgent public campaign against government censorship of websites. A year ago, the district government of Dusseldorf county in Germany passed orders to more than 80 internet providers to block access from their users to some foreign websites.

Providers and civil rights groups united in protest against the directive, but lost 3 out of 4 court cases, confirming immediate enforceability of the orders. Government initiatives to censor websites date back to the mid nineties, but seemed to have been dropped from 2000 onwards as a very ineffective approach.

The renewed German efforts at censorship are in sharp contrast with the unanimous declaration of the European parliament against the use of “blocking” as a way of regulating content on the Internet. In a vote held on 11 April 2002, 460 MEP’s were in favour, 0 against and 3 abstentions. In their adoption of the report on the protection of minors and human dignity, parliament expresses concern ‘that recent decisions or strategies to block access to certain websites may result in the fragmentation of Internet access or the denial of access to legitimate content and therefore is not an effective European solution for combating illegal and harmful Internet content’.

FITUG writes:

Information legally and widely available in the country of origin is decreed to be made invisible throughout Germany. This reminds us of a very bad experience in Germany’s not so glorious past when Germans were not allowed to listen to foreign radio stations like BBC London.

FITUG statement (28.01.2003)