Germany to build the Internet Berlin Wall

Ramon sez, "In Germany internet censorship will be introduced. The bill did not pass yet, but the ruling parties have agreed to do so. Over 130.000 people in Germany have signed a petition to protect the freedom of speech and information, but we have not been heard. Read details about the consequences, arguments and counter measures here."
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.

The Dawning of Internet Censorship in Germany (Thanks, Ramon!)


  1. it’s funny how it seems many governments launch a bill like this one by one and fail one by one. These dramatic boingboing titles are funny as well.

  2. What puts a little cherry on top of this story is that five ISPs in Germany (Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone/Arcor, Hansenet/Alice, Telefonica/O2 and Kabel Deutschland) signed contracts with the BKA to implement this system already (on 17.April.2009), i.e. before it was even clear if and how the legal basis for these measures would come to be (German source), which kind of shows how confident the government is that this will come to be.

  3. Shouldn’t we be finding a way to reach the Chinese and other nations that are on the censored side of the web? And now Germany tries to do some kind of end-around and impose net-censorship… for the ridiculous bugaboo of kiddy porn? What’s really going on here?
    I’m old enough to remember people making rational arguments about domino theory and I while I despised it as historically inaccurate as regards communism, just how would governments easily sidle up into net blindness just because everyone else was doing it?
    Note I use the term bugaboo about kiddy porn. Child exploitation is heinous in the extreme but I’m sure that most mutants are aware that the net is not some prurient exchange medium for sewer heads and the mentally ill. In this case the bugaboo is a banner, a rallying cry that is pure jingoistic self propagandizement, and that sort of thing really torques me. It’s a false argument.

  4. German parliament is controlled by a great coalition of CDU/CSU (conservatives) and SPD (social democrats). Conservatives came up with the “idea”, and today, the socialists chimed in.

    The press release issued by the CDU in response to the SPD decision to join in speaks a clear language:

    [if the socialists hadn’t joined], they would have been responsible for the advancement of criminal acts committed on the internet, starting with rape and humiliation of little children up to copyright infringements on a broad scale.

    Tells you where the priorities are.

  5. @#6, Joshp:
    You might call it a side effect of the recent strengthening of christian conservative parties and politicians.

    Ursula von der Leyen, who is one of the main contributors of this law, belongs to the CDU, Christlich Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union). Their moral values and political views roughly correlate with those of the American republicans, i.e. they stand for traditional values (mostly against homosexuality, for marriage and families) as well as a strong (and more than often corrupt) connection between economy and politics. Mrs von der Leyen is also a member of several religious and political organizations some of which might be called right-wing extremist. She was also sponsor of events such as a congress of psychotherapists where methods of “curing homosexuals” where to be discussed. She has a reputation as a political hard-liner and is normally not willing to give in to or accept any form of criticism (actually, this should be reason No.1 to throw politicians out of parliament).

    But the decision to install a censorship infrastructure was also the consequence of years of bad voter participation. In the last elections, both leading parties (SPD and CDU, which are normally a pair of opposites, like the democrats and the republicans in America) did not get enough votes to form a government, and thus, they did what was the nightmare of many voters: form a coalition, thus effectively negating and ignoring the election outcome AND forming a diffuse political … “group” that is effectively able to get every law through parliament (Japan has been into a situation like this for decades with the LDP power conglomerate, see for more).

    This possibility of freely forming coalitions with other parties in order to build a government is one of the many cancers that have been eroding democracy in Germany for quite some time – in Germany, it doesn’t matter that much for which political party you vote; if one big party gets 45% of all votes and three other minority parties have, like, 22 %, 17% and 12%, they can form a coalition, thus, they have 51 % of all votes and thus, they hold the reins of the new government. Despite the clear majority of the one 45 % party. This example may be a bit exaggerated, but it illustrates how German party politics work.

    Also, party and coalition discipline is somehow considered a valor in Germany’s politics. Dissidents and differing opinions within the governing political parties are mostly ignored while a small group of high-profile politicians actually holds the power and makes the decisions, more than often behind doors locked for the public and “lower-ranking” members of the own party.

    Greetings from the corrupt and soon-to-be censored Germany,


  6. As despicable as it is to think that child abuse is enabled by the freedoms inherent in the internet, it has been shown time and time again that those services created for the protection of the public from harmful influences by way of censorship, invariably end up also blocking sites which have nothing to do with the original intention, especially in cases of political sensitivity.

    I sincerely hope that it’s not a case of the WMDs and that an ulterior motive doesn’t soon become apparent.

    Having said all that “censorship is bad, umkay?”, my ISP (BT internet in the UK) has had a kiddy porn filter for as long as I can remember, and I have no complaints about that.

  7. @8 The translation of “bis hin zu Urheberrechtsverletzungen” as “up to copyright infringements on a broad scale” seem to be quite wrong to me.

    While I find the mere juxtaposition of child porn and copyright infringement both telling and abhorrent, “bis hin zu” does say nothing about what’s more important.

  8. @#12HBL

    The filter you mentioned is called “CleanFeed” and is administered by the IWF. It suffers similar problems with regards to lack of oversight, but other than that it does work quite well (accidental 4chan blocking and similar cases aside). It is, however, much worse in one respect when compared to similar systems in Europe: Instead of a “Naughty person, this is blocked!” page, it serves up a fake 404 page, which can make it a bit tricky to spot if something is blocked or just broken.

  9. Wow, it seems the planet is awash with like-minded nincompoops. Honestly, if Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, etc…traded their politicians with one another, would anyone notice?

    Corporatists in cahoots with extremists + callow politicians = the death of social democracy.

  10. I think there is already more ‘silent’ internet censorship out there than we might be aware of. I was surprised recently when browsing in Italy that I got a very police state looking disclaimer instead of the smurf pr0n I had been looking for … Wiki sums it up nicely:

    While I hate censorship, if there is an efficient way to get rid of kiddieporn, please do so.

    (Wiki also says Italy blocked pirate bay … which still works fine here :)

  11. At least they are making minor corrections to the upcoming filer. Otherwise you could be prosecuted by just following any tinyurl which could lead to a blocked site.
    But the next election is coming in a few weeks. Lets give them something to think about, as opposition leaders, just kick them out of power.

  12. “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
    – Mein Kampf

  13. “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” -adolf

    good to see they have learnt from history

    sorry for the godwins but its so blatant that it would be a crime to not quote in regards to this.

  14. @#6: You are talking about arguments. But Zensurursula isn’t interested it them. She has clearly stated so. If you come with arguments against her, she says thinks like “It is unimaginable that there are people who do not want to protect children!!11!!”

    Thats the way it goes.

    The “corrections” #18 mentioned are nothing more then a “but we listened the the people!” lines – removing things that would not have worked anyway, taking up the “names” of arguments without even touching the background.
    It’s like saying “Okay, for security reasons we remove the part that says that 3-wheeled buses are allowed, and write that there must be at least 4 wheels” – without saying that there must be brakes.

  15. Oh, a few additional facts:

    So far, the number on the petition is 134014 signatures, that may change because of additional (offline) signatures or fake/wrong ones.

    That makes it the most sucessful petition ever. The now-second one had reached 128000, driven by a massive campaign of boulevard mass media on a far more “understandable” topic: prices for car fuels.
    Yesterday, the leading TV news show “Tagesschau” had mentiones the law, but not a single word on this petition.

  16. I hate to bring up the nazi comparision, but can someone please come and liberate us? Again?

  17. So, the law has passed the Bundestag yesterday.
    We hope, either the President or the BVerfG (highest Court) will stop it.

    Please push the issue outside of Germany.

  18. @dankbert: Partly agree with you in general, BUT the possibility of free coalitions is a STRENGTH of the german democracy not a disadvantage. First your 45% big party which is not the majority(!), the majority in your example are the 3 minor parties together (or the big one and some of the minors). Of course no position they present alone is the majority, but they have to act together to form a majority coalition and so each one’s interest will be met (partly). That’s how a democracy works!
    While the small parties may be restricted to some main topics and have to compromise open and visible while in power, the big parties already claim to have a compromise on most topics, thus they do not have to discuss them openly – the result is less transparent for the voter.
    Right now in Germany, both big parties try to sell themselves to everyone and then they wonder why voters are dissappointed because, they cannot see the party they voted for fight for what they promised to them (since you cannot fullfill everyones whishes off course).
    I would rather like to see a coalition of all our minor parties than endure another 4 years under the ruling of the two big ones. While in power, they together can do whatever they want, without listening to the people or other parties (and they just did so with the new law, against warnings of experts and politically interested netizens). Small parties in contrast have to hardly discuss their decisions and openly argue about them to ensure their small group of voters feels what the party does is in their interest.
    (Yeah i know, it’s not all good on the other side either, it never is).

    Only thing I dislike about our democratic system is that the government is strongly linked to the parliament, i.e. majority coalition in the parliament is also providing the government which brings law making always in line with the executive.

    Greetings from Germany,

  19. We are paying the price for hundreds of years of sexual repression by the church, whilst their own clergy have for centuries covered up their own depraved kiddy porn adventures.
    This is the same war against homosexuality in the guise of protecting children. With the legalization of homosexuality in the west during the 1980s, they needed a new strategy. And you can be sure that the bible belt fanatics in America are the culprits behind it.These type of people admit to wanting every homosexual dead and buried. And the great irony and hypocrisy of all this is that they inevitably end up in bed with the same criminals they purport to be against.
    Sexual predation is caused knowingly or unknowingly by the same people trying to stop it.

  20. ‘US research has shown that social conservatives are the heaviest consumers of online pornography. Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School obtained anonymous credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider and factored in differences in broadband access between states.

    “Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t explicitly restrict gay marriage,” reported New Scientist. “States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement ‘I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,’ bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority’

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