Öffentlichkeit

The Dawning of Internet Censorship in Germany

Germany is on the verge of censoring its Internet: The government – a grand coalition between the German social democrats and conservative party – seems united in its decision: On Thursday the parliament is to vote on the erection of an internet censorship architecture.

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The Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen kicked off and lead the discussions within the German Federal Government to block Internet sites in order to fight child pornography. The general idea is to build a censorship architecture enabling the government to block content containing child pornography. The Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) is to administer the lists of sites to be blocked and the internet providers obliged to erect the secret censorship architecture for the government.

A strong and still growing network opposing these ideas quickly formed within the German internet community. The protest has not been limited to hackers and digital activist but rather a mainstreamed effort widely supported by bloggers and twitter-users. The HashTag used by the protesters is #zensursula – a German mesh up of the Ministers name and the word censorship equivalent to #censursula.

As part of the public’s protest an official e-Petition directed at the German parliament was launched. Within three days 50,000 persons signed the petition – – the number required for the petition titled „No indexing and blocking of Internet sites“ to be heard by the parliament. The running time of an e-Petition in Germany is 6 weeks – within this time over 130,000 people signed making this e-Petition the most signed and most successful ever.

During the past weeks, protests became more and more creative – countless blogs and twitter-users followed and commented the discussions within governments and opposing arguments. Many mainstream media picked up on this and reported about the protest taking place on-line. A working group on censorship was founded and the protest coordinated with a wiki, mailing lists, chats and of course employing twitter and blogs. One website „Zeichnemit.de“ created a landing page explaining the complicated petitioning system and making signing the petition easier and more accessible for non net-experts.

Over 500 people attended the governments official press conference on the planed internet censorship – a number of whom used this occasion to demonstrate and voice their concerns. In fact, demonstrators began attending some of the Minister von der Leyens public appearances, carrying banners and signs to raise attention to the stifling of information freedom in Germany.

The net community did not only oppose the governments plans, but also made constructive suggestions how to deal with the problem of child pornography without introducing a censorship architecture and circumcising constitutional freedoms. The working group on censorship demonstrated the alternatives for instance by actually removing over 60 websites containing child pornographic content in 12 hours, simply by emailing the international providers who then removed this content from the net. The sites were identified through the black lists of other countries documented on Wikileaks. This demonstration underlines the protesters main arguments: instead of effectively investing time and efforts to have illegal content removed from the internet, the German government is choosing censorship and blocking – an easy and dangerous way out. The greatest fear of the protesters is that once in place, the infrastructure will be used to censor other forms of unwanted content, not only child pornography. German politicians already seem to be lining up with their wish-list of content to be censored in future – the suggestions ranging form gambling sites, islamist web pages, first person shooters, and the music industry cheering up with the thought of finally banning pirate bay and p2p.

You can find a detailed linklist of the zensursula-debate here (in german).
Thanks to Geraldine de Bastion for the translation.

Weitersagen und Unterstützen. Danke!
142 Kommentare
  1. Very nice blogpost! I would really appreciate if the plans to integrate this kind of censorship would be critizized not only by germans, but also by people of other countrys.

  2. Kann dieser Text unter Angabe der Quelle kopiert und auf unserer Website gepostet werden? Ich war schon dabei, die Problematik mal auf englisch aufzuarbeiten – danke Geraldine für die Arbeitsersparnis!

  3. Kleine Korrektur: In englischen gibt es keine Tausender-Punkt, sondern ein Tausender-Komma. Die Zahl im Artikel genannten Zahlen „130.000“ und „50.000“ lesen sich für Amis wir „130“ und „50“.

    Also bitte ändern in „130,000“ und „50,000“.

  4. Habe gerade auf abgeordnetenwatch bosbach eine Frage gestellt.
    Mal schauen ob und wann die durchkommt:

    Sehr geehrter Herr Bosbach,

    im “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” behaupten Sie niemanden zu kennen, der Internetsperren auf andere Inhalte als dokumentierten Kindesmissbrauch ausweiten will.
    Darf ich daraus schließen, dass Ihnen Herr Strobl nicht bekannt ist?
    Oder handelt es sich vielmehr um eine nicht erwähnenswerte Einzelmeinung?

    Wie kann Ihre eigene Aussage
    „Ich halte es für richtig, sich erstmal nur mit dem Thema Kinderpornografie zu befassen, damit die öffentliche Debatte nicht in eine Schieflage gerät“
    anders verstanden werden, als dass zummindest Sie persönlich sehr wohl für eine Ausweitung sind?
    Dementieren Sie, diese Aussage getätigt zu haben?
    Oder handelt es sich auch hier um eine unwichtige Einzelmeinung?

    Wie stehen Sie zu der gestrigen Pressemitteiung Ihrer Partei laut der die SPD Gefahr gelaufen wäre
    „Straftaten im Internet Vorschub zu leisten, von der Vergewaltigung und Erniedrigung kleiner Kinder bis hin zu Urheberrechtsverletzungen in breitestem Ausmaß gegenüber Künstlern und Kreativen.“
    es sei denn sie sie unterstützt ein Gesetz dessen
    „Zugangssperren im Internet müssen und werden einzig und allein auf kinderpornographische Seiten beschränkt bleiben.“
    Sehen auch Sie den eklatanten Widerspruch in diesen beiden Aussagen?
    (Die erste ist übrigens sehr ungünstig formuliert, sie suggeriert, dass Urheberrechtsverletzungen schlimmer sind als Kindesmissbrauch.)
    Falls nein, warum werden Urheberrechtsverletzungen in dieser kurzen Mitteilung dann überhaupt erwähnt?
    Falls ja, darf ich Ihre heutige Aussage dann so verstehen, dass Ihnen dieses Dokument in dem Moment nicht bekannt war?
    Oder handelt es sich bei dieser offziellen Pressemitteilung schon wieder um eine unwichtige Randmeinung?

  5. English, very good … ich geh dann mal die Studis hier in Griechenland informieren. Die und ein Teil der quer aus Europa stammenden Erasmusler sind immer sehr interessiert an politischen Irrfahrten dieses Kalibers …

  6. „…the suggestions ranging form gambling sites, Muslim web pages, “killer games”, and the music industry cheering up with the thought of finally banning pirate bay and p2p. …“

    „Muslim web pages“? Didn’t you mean „Islamist web pages“? That’s not the same thing.

  7. Eine schöne Zusammenfassung.

    Nur als kleiner Einwand:
    „the suggestions ranging form gambling sites, Muslim web pages,“

    Muslim ist hier in gewisser Weise unzutreffend. Die Rede war von islamistischen Webseiten, also „islamist“ im Englischen.
    Islamistisch bezeichnet hierbei die extremistische Ausprägung der Religion. Ein Muslim hingegen ist jeder Angehörige der Islamischen Religion im Allgemeinen. Der obige Artikel suggeriert also, das nicht nur extrmeistische Seiten gesperrt werden sollen, sondern jegliche Seiten, die von einem Muslim betrieben werden.
    Und soweit geht noch nicht mal die Union.

  8. Hoffentlich kommt das Ding durch. Zensur ist der falsche Weg. Es gibt sicherlich viele andere Wege, die erfolgreicher sind um was gegen Kinderpornografie zu machen…

  9. ich würde an eurer stelle in den ersten absätzen deutlicher formulieren, dass es nicht bei kipo bleiben wird

    dass kommt kaum rüber und damit könntet ihr einige leser schon am anfang verlieren

  10. DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO STOP THIS GERMANS!!

    THEY TRIED WITH AUSTRALIA AND COULDNT PASS IT, STOP THEM!

    IF THEY ARE TOO LAZY TO CORRECTLY REMOVE SITES, FIND NEW PEOPLE WHO WILL!!

  11. Nun. Das heisst, es gibt Krieg, Frau Zensurula. Klar und einfach. Oh, und wir haben schon Proxy-Server im Ausland angemietet. In einem zivilisierteren Land… sowas wie Nordkorea. :P

  12. Internet censorship in Germany will be a very good thing for the USA. All the most creative Germans will leave and come here to the USA!

  13. I’m pretty sure that you mean „circumscribing constitutional freedoms“, not „circumcising constitutional freedoms.“

    Although it *does* make for an interesting metaphor.

    Anne

    Anne P. Mitchell, Esq
    CEO/President
    Institute for Social Internet Public Policy
    http://www.ISIPP.com 
    Member, Cal. Bar Cyberspace Law Committee
    Professor of Law, Lincoln Law School of SJ

  14. Laws such as this only draw the ire of the internet community, and are often primary reasons for the changing of politicians through voter shift during the next election … then again, the massive activist demonstrations might change their minds before they commit political suicide …

  15. Was ist illegal in real Welt, muss on internet auch illegal, und censored, sein. Child porn, violence promotion and celebration. Es is gut Krime zu punish, censor. in real welt, und auch on the internet. ………………. what is illegal in the real world, must be illegal, censored and prosecuted also on the internet. .. freedom of crime is the wrong kind of freedom. it is not the freedom of speech. …….. Browsers, PCs, laptops muss come with child protection filters PREINSTALLED and turned ON. Verified adult can later turn them off.

  16. Why do they have to punish the majority because a a few perverts. Hunt them down! Don’t tell me they can’t. If they can find a granny to prosecute for sharing a few mp3’s they can find these scum also. The problem is most of our „politicians“ are perverted scum as well.

  17. Remember, remember, June 18th 09
    The censorship treason and plot
    Oh I know of no reason
    Why the censorship treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  18. I am more than willing to comment on the actions of the new Hitlers, the new Stalins and the new Ayatollahs running Germany.

    Censorship of the Internet or any other medium of communication is totalitarianism, no matter whether it is cloaked in goody-goody motives. It is not very surprising, coming from Germany, where it is a criminal offence to „slander the state“. This concept, itself, is fascist. Perhaps it is no wonder that Fascism sprung out of the German State in the 1930’s.

    This kind of fascism is constantly trying to emerge from within hard-won, but fragile, political developments of democracy, for the police, the State, the church and other elements of power and „authority“ are constantly trying to undo democracy and restore autocracy and arbitrary dictats of the power-hungry. Naturally, they must disguise their actions as being beneficial and protective of some motherhood issue or value, such as the protection of children.

    Other ways and means could be devised to protect children or other persons deemed to need protection, but it is easier to censor and prosecute and destroy freedom of thought and expression. Those concepts are part of the basis of any challenge to arbitrary power and thought-control and are therefore the most vulnerable to attack from the fascist mind and its power. Germany is not the only country to try and use censorship to assert control over freedom of expression and thought. Britain, Australia, Canada and the U.S., among the so-called democracies are working on the same sort of fascist controls. What is the real difference between these kinds of controls and those imposed by totalitarian regimes like China, Iran, Myanmar, Libya, North Korea and others of the ilk, except a matter of degree, but not of essence.

    I write this as a long-time lawyer, judge and supporter of the civil rights of ordinary people to live and work in a democratic country.

  19. We are having a similar problem in Australia.
    I think you are all doing the correct thing.
    However, I think the most important item is to get as many people to write to their political representatives as possible.
    Personally, by facsimile is best but email is also OK.
    A Petition is OK, Protest is OK – but imagine if every Political facsimile machine (and email box) in Germany was receiving faxes/emails from the members constituents about how they personally do not want to see this filter in place and if it is put in place then maybe next election we will be voting for someone else.

    This is a very strong motivator for politicians.

    First they worry about getting elected again – then they worry about everything else.

  20. There is a better way! Countries should work together and find the makers and distributors of child pornography world wide and send teams of mercenaries to kill them. Not child molesters unless they refuse to get help but unscrupulously child pornographers that make money on this disgusting, child and society destroying crap. Mission: find and destroy this sub-human scum!

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