Germany's President signs an Internet bill against his own government

By EDRi · February 24, 2010

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Deutsch: [Deutschlands Bundespräsident unterzeichnet Internetgesetz gegen seine eigene Regierung |]

Despite the fact that the German Government had decided not to apply the
internet censorship law (Zugangserschwerungsgesetz) proposed by the former
Government in April 2009, the new bill was signed on 17 February 2010 by
German President Horst Köhler.

The president decided that the Access Impediment Law did not raise
any significant concerns related to the compatibility with the German
Constitution and that it was meant to fight online child pornography
allowing the blocking of offensive web sites.

This is a delicate situation for the government which will need the
opposition’s support to repeal the legislation. Following the strong and
massive opposition to the bill by Internet users and civil rights groups,
the government coalition elected in September 2009 decided to put the law on
hold, focusing rather on removing Internet offensive content, based on
existing laws.

The government was hoping to have more time to draw up another anti-child
pornography law that would repeal the Access Impediment Law. “New
regulations will quickly be introduced that correspond to the principle of
deleting rather than blocking access,” said Justice Minister Sabine
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger on 17 February, adding that the government was
decided not to apply the law. Her statement was backed up by the Interior

The Working Group on Internet blocking and censorship (Censorship AK) asked
for the repeal of the bill in a press release and called for a spontaneous
demonstration of the Internet activists for the same goal. The demonstration
took place on 17 February in front of the Bellevue Palace.

The Bitkom association, which represents the German IT industry, called on
the government to clarify the situation and to quickly repeal the new law. A
spokesman from the German Pirate Party said it was “unbelievable” that
President Köhler had signed the law into force.

The opposition parties will introduce a bill on 25 February before the
Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament, repealing the new law.

New Internet Legislation Embarrasses German Government (18.02.2010),1518,678782,00.html

The Working Group on Internet blocking and censorship calls for immediate
lifting of Internet blocking law (only in German, 17.02.2010)

Spontaneous demonstration in front of Schloss Bellevue (only in German,

Dokumentation der Spontan-Demo vor Schloß Bellevue

New law to censor internet child pornography (17.02.2010),,5259255,00.html

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

ZugErschwG signed (only inGerman, 18.02.2010)

EDRi-gram: Web blocking gets a reality check (21.10.2010)