Web blocking gets a reality check

By EDRi · October 21, 2009

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Deutsch: [Websperren müssen der Wahrheit ins Auge blicken | http://www.unwatched.org/node/1554]

In the negotiations surrounding the formation of a new conservative-liberal
coalition in Germany following the recent elections, an agreement has been
reached to postpone, for at least a year, the introduction of web blocking.
As the law has already been adopted, the procedure by which the law will be
stopped from entering into force has not yet been decided. Coincidentally,
the UK government decided also not to introduce mandatory blocking to force
the remaining consumer ISPs to follow the “voluntary” blocking already
undertaken by the major ISPs in that country.

In Germany, the plan is to use the existing legislation in order to remove
as much illegal material as possible from the Internet. After an initial
12-month trial, this approach will be reevaluated. It remains very unclear,
however, on what criteria the re-evaluation may take place. The approaches
of the two coalition partners on this issue are very different, with the
liberal FDP steadfastly opposed to blocking during the election campaign,
while the blocking legislation was pushed by the conservative CDU Minister
von der Leyen. By default, therefore, the approaches and interpretations
that will be taken on the “re-evaluation” will also most probably be

The decision to prioritise the removal of child abuse images from the
Internet was criticised by organisations whose purpose is to protect
children, including Unicef. Unicef’s press release explains that blocking is
necessary because takedown of illegal sites is “not possible” in “foreign”
countries. However, the organisation does not find it necessary to criticise
or name any of the major countries which leave images of child abuse online
rather than removing them. This is particularly surprising when we consider
that all countries in the world, with the exception of the USA (which has
signed the Optional Protocol on Child Pornography) and Somalia have signed
and ratified the binding UN Child Rights Convention which requires state
parties to take all appropriate national, bilateral and international
measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic
performances and materials.

No internet censorship in Germany for the next year (18.10.2009)

Home Office backs down on net censorship laws (16.10.2009)

German Internet Blocking Bill Suspended (18.10.2009)

UNICEF: Priority for Child! Access barriers are an important step – Further
action needed (16.10.2009)

(contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)