Update on Alvar Freude case
Alvar Freude, the German internet activist, was acquitted on all accounts
in the appeal at the German penal State Court of Stuttgart on 15 June
2006. On his website, Freude documents many developments regarding
filtering and blocking in Germany, including hyper-links to websites with
radical right-wing content and a distasteful website. 4 of these sites had
to be blocked by all ISPs in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen since 2002.
Two of the sites have meanwhile been dropped from the blocking order.
The public prosecutor demanded the financial equivalent of 140 days of
prison sentence for incitement of the masses, distributing propaganda from
anti-constitutional organisations and representation of violence.
According to the prosecutor, all hyper-links to radical right-wing
websites were forbidden. But according to Freude’s lawyer and to the
appeal court, linking to right-wing hate speech can be permissible in the
context of reporting current events and contributing to the general civil
The court made it clear freedom of speech is essential and underlined
explicitly that citizens/netizens that wish to form an opinion about the
blocking orders, can only get a full picture if they have the possibility
to study the specific contents of the blocked materials.
The court decided separately on the hyper-link to the distasteful website
rotten.com. That could not be considered illegal in any context at all,
since the penal code only bans explicit glorification of horrible or
inhuman violent acts against people and that was not the case, since
rotten.com does not provide any comments to pictures of for example car
crashes. On yet another account, the FreedomFone project that allows users
to have the contents of the banned websites read out loud to them, the
court said it was clearly a case of satire, and as such widely recognised
by the internet community.
Heise, Freispruch im Hyperlink-Prozess (in German, 15.06.2005)
Alvar Freude: complete documentation on the trial (in German)