23 February, 2011
On 22 February 2011 the German Working Group against Internet Blocking and Censorship (AK Zensur) submitted their complaint against the German law on Internet blocking to Germany’s Constitutional Court. The law is directed against online child abuse material and had come into force on 23 February 2010, setting a one-year deadline for the complaint.
AK Zensur and many others had fiercely opposed the law and announced that a complaint would be filed when the law was enacted by Parliament in June 2009. An online petition against the law collected 134 000 signatures in May and June, the highest number ever achieved at the German Parliament’s online petitions system. A curious situation emerged when the government changed after the elections in September 2009, taking the liberal party FDP into power in a coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU. The FDP had opposed the blocking law in their election campaign, and before the law came into force, it was agreed that it would not be fully implemented. In a legally dubious move, a ‘non-application directive’ by the Interior minister stipulated that initially, only take-down was to be attempted, and the governing parties agreed that a review would be held about a year later.
This created something of a legal absurdity as the consequences of the law are not fully felt at the moment when the deadline to complain is expiring. But AK Zensur and its lawyers are confident that even now, many aspects of the law are in clear violation of the German Constitution, and several experts had voiced similar concerns at a parliamentary hearing before the law was enacted. While political support for the ill-fated law has widely diminished, the governing parties have not found the will to abolish it in a new Parliamentary act. AK Zensur is hopeful that with its complaint, it will be able to do the politicians’ homework for them. A website collecting signatures to support the complaint in the political debate will be started soon.
German press release: German Free Speech Working Party issues constitutional complaint against censorship law (only in German, 23.02.2011)
German Free Speech Working Party issues constitutional complaint against censorship law (23.02.2011)
EDRi-gram: Germany’s President signs an Internet bill against his own government (24.02.2010)
(Contribution by Sebastian Lisken)