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German Web Censorship Law Passed

10 Lug/09

GermanyThe German web censorship law passed the German Bundestag earlier today. This could mean that German Internet providers with more than 10.000 customers have to create filters based on a secret list that is provided by the German Federal Criminal Office. Users who access Internet sites that are included in the list will be presented with a stop sign instead of the website itself. The traffic details will be recorded but cannot be used for criminal prosecution. The police does have the right to check the data on suspicion.

The German Federal Criminal Office has the authority to add new websites and domains to the list. A website can for instance be added instantly if it is hosted outside of the European Union. A committee has been designated to perform spot checks on the list every three months.

The law itself was pushed mainly as a law to fight child pornography on the Internet. It was always denied that it would be used to censor websites for different reasons although some politicians have already mentioned that they would like to include violent video games or hate sites in the list as well.

Internet providers have the sole responsibility to provide the infrastructure and maintain the web censorship filters. This includes organizations like Universities but also some businesses with more than 10000 employees. The technique employed to filter websites that are on the web censorship list is simply blocking the domain name. Users who enter the IP can visit the site normally. (via Heise (German))

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