Germany: Internet Censorship

by Irma Arkus

The latest news on increasing Internet censorship come from Germany, where parliament voted to proceed with censorship of unwanted, undesired pornographic websites, in order to protect the children.

Similar actions have been taken in Australia, Canada, US, and a few other countries.

Australia’s recent feud with WikiLeaks, in which WikiLeaks disclosed the list of the censored sites to be absolutely unrelated to child pornography, but rather to be of political and ideological nature.

Few years ago, Cory Doctorow joined us on our show, and brilliantly pointed out that legislations brought forward, such as ones used to censor content in order to “protect the children,” have been often used to solidify the government power base. Noone will, in their right minds, look or post child pornography using simple, well known key-words, making most legislations meaningless as a form of protection, doing essentially nothing more than opening doors to potential abuses of the laws by authorities.

Such is the case of Australia vs. WikiLeaks, a well known whistle-blower site, which, upon releasing the aformentioned list, experienced nothing less than legal prosecution by Australian defence, and is technically, one of the sites on the noted list.

The “need to protect children” won in German parliament, following the recent trends of turning ISPs into Internet police authorities, with legislating ISPs to display warning on select sites detected to contain child pornography.

The most intriguing part of the event was the response by German citizens. According to the Inquirer “the bill drew strong protests from German Internet users including hackers, digital freedom activists, bloggers and social notworkers. It triggered an online petition signed by more than 130,000 individuals, 80,000 more than the number required for the petition to be heard on the floor of the German parliament.”

The German law is certainly not as draconian as similar legislations introduced by other nations, due to the fact that the law is meant to expire in three years. [The Inquirer]