German Government forces ISPs to put web filters

By EDRi · April 22, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Deutsche Regierung verpflichtet ISPs zur Einführung von Webfiltern|]
Macedonian: [Германската влада ги принудува интернет |,mk/]

The German Government, through Germany’s family minister Ursula von der
Leyen as well as the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), Jörg
Ziercke, signed on 17 April 2009 “voluntary” contracts with 5 large ISPs
(Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone/Arcor, Hanse Net, Kabel Deutschland and
Telefonica O2 that have 75 per cent of the German Internet access market)
for child pornograph filtering via DNS.

At the same time, a draft bill on the same topic has been initiated by the
Minister for Economics, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who is in charge of the
telemedia law that makes things even worst than anticipated. The bill was
approved today, 22 April 2009, by the German Government. The text shows that
the ISPs will be “allowed” to log who tried to access a site on the
blacklist and that the police can request this information. Moreover, the
blacklist can also contain sites that only link to child porn, but do not
host any content themselves.

The German Federal Criminal Police Office will be in charge of creating
those lists and the new law obliges all providers with more than 10 000
customers (approx. 97% of all ISPs) to block porn sites on the lists. Their
content will not be made public, thus leaving no possibility to check their
correctness. Those who will try to access the pages from the blacklist will
just see a stop sign.

The Ministry of Family Affairs is estimating that the list will be “at
least thousand” Web pages. The Minister has confirmed some time ago
that the censorship could be extended to exclude other content from the
Internet, stating: “child pornography is a problem issue and clearly
identifiable,” but “you can not exclude what the federal government may
want to exclude in the future.”

However, the measure is illusory as explained by the 500 protesters that
gathered in Berlin on Friday, 17 April 2009, to protest against this measure
which is considered just a first step to political censorship on the web.

EDRi-member Ralf Bendrath explains on the main problems of
the measure: “The web filters are not just a tool to remove illegal content
from the net. Web filters are a tool of censorship. If you want illegal
content removed from the Internet write an email to the hosting company and
with hours it will be removed. If you just put it on an Internet censorship
list, you will precisely NOT remove it. Moreover, the government ignores the
facts. According to scientific studies, there is no mass market for child
porn on websites, and most of the material is exchanged through private
networks, filesharing sites or offline. We therefore see these activities as
only symbolic and part of the beginning federal election campaign, while at
the same time they are establishing a dangerous general censorship

The DNS filtering does not work, as explained by EDRi-member Chaos Computer
Club. “It will be very easy to evade this filter,” said a club spokesman,
Matthias Mehldau. Any user that wants to bypass the Stop sign, would just
need to change its DNS servers to one of the OpenDNS servers freely
available on several websites.

Thus, the protesters explained that in fact the money and energy spent on
creating blacklists would be much better used in getting the people who are
offering child porn via their servers. Also it seems that the major
providers are “blackmailed” by the government to sign the “voluntary”
contract, so they shouldn’t be associated in connection with child

Five German online companies agree to obstruct child porn (19.04.2009)

German Cabinet approves new law to ban child pornography Internet sites

Opinion on Germany’s possible internet censorship (17.04.2009)

Hundreds protested in the early morning against Internet censorship (only in
German, 17.04.2009)

Hunderte protestierten am frühen Morgen gegen Internet-Zensur

BKA filters the Web (only in German, 17.04.2009),1518,619509,00.html

The arguments for child porn-blocking run into the void (only in German ,

Providers may log user requests (only in German, 20.04.2009)–/meldung/136450

Draft law on child pornography on the Internet (only in German, 22.04.2009),property=pdf,bereich=bmwi,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf

Thoughts on the media perception & Bill on Wednesday (only in German,

(Update) Gedanken zur medialen Wahrnehmung & Gesetzentwurf am Mittwoch #Zensursula

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