German court confirms ISP blocking order

By EDRi · April 6, 2005

E-zine Heise reports that the Administrative Court of Cologne on 31 March
2005 has once more approved of an order to force ISPs to block 2 neo-nazi
websites hosted in the US. The order was issued by the district government
of Nordrhein-Westfalen in 2002 and aimed at 80 different providers in the
region. The providers already saw 7 legal attempts fail to lift the order.
Only 1 attempt, on 31 October 2002 at the administrative court of Minden,
was successful, in allowing suspension of execution of the order pending
full proceedings. A well-known critic of the blocking order, Alvar Freude,
also lost his case on 7 October 2004, and was fined the equivalent amount
of money of 120 days prison sentence. Freude appealed.

The blocking order is justified, according to the Cologne court and other
courts before, because the websites violate different provisions of the
criminal law, and thus also violate the new national treaty on youth media
protection (entered into force on 1 April 2003). Furthermore, attempts to
address the owners of the websites were unsuccessful and the economical
costs of blocking the sites are low, according to the Court. The providers
may appeal at the higher administrative court of Muenster, ‘because of the
constitutional implications of the verdict’.

Experts have long doubted the effectivity of the blocking order.
EDRI-member FITUG protested in 2003 that “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.”

Verwaltungsgericht Köln bestätigt Sperrungsverfügung in NRW (31.03.2005)

Government overview of previous court cases (in German)

Original order of the district government of Nordrhein-Westfalen (13.02.2002)

Fitug statement (28.01.2003)

EDRI-gram: Germany attempts to censor website on censorship (06.10.2004)