52 States in 8 Months

Freedom of Speech in Germany

Posted in Europe by Ulf on May 5, 2009

Most of you have probably heard about the current changes to the Telemediengesetz (TMG) in Germany which allows broad censorship and filtering of Internet content in Germany. The basic principle is the following: The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) can make up a list of websites which the German Internet providers have to block. Every attempt to access a website on this list, either on purpose or due to some malware or something, is logged. Our government publicly claims that the source IP address of these access attempts isn’t logged by the BKA. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately they make the Internet providers log them and force them to hand the data over for prosecution. You can imagine what data protection representatives think about this.

I cannot accept censorship in Germany. And I believe, both from my view on society and from a technical perspective, that filtering internet content is not a feasible solution. What’s about trying to stop those guys who rape children in the first place instead of trying to make distribution harder?

On http://epetitionen.bundestag.de there is a petition against the new law. You can sign the petition, but the whole place isn’t as democratic as you would hope it to be. They have a forum on bundestag.de, but there were complains about moderators randomly closing threads and deleting posts, so it seems that even bundestag.de isn’t a democratic place. Ach du meine Guete… Still, please read this petition and consider signing it. Edit: If 50,000 people sign it until next Wednesday, the Petitionsausschuss will consider it. So far there are more than 25,000 signatures.

In the forums there was an interesting post from some guy who lived in Dubai for a few years, and he wrote about their internet censorship. The administration in the Emirates probably noticed that filtering the Internet is quite a tough job (who would have imagined that…), so they created some automatic filtering algorithms. It turned out that the “Moebelhaus Lutz” (www.xxxlutz.de as in XL furniture) was filtered in Dubai, perhaps because it contained the letter “X” too often. Hey, our government proposed only to block hosts from outside Europe, possibly with content in a foreign language which our upcoming filter generation machine doesn’t understand. That rings a bell.

Quo vadis, Germany?

PS: There are free T-Shirts showing “Zensursula“.

EDIT: If anyone knows a reason why I should still vote for one of the parties forming today’s government, please let me know. Otherwise I’ll vote for the FDP and the Gruene in September.

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7 Responses

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  1. Martin said, on May 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    The Edit is a rhetoric statement, isn’t it? But, euh tell me any reason to vote for FDP or Gruene. :D

  2. Ulf said, on May 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    No, I actually mean it serious.

    1. Neither of the two parties support many of the things which our current governments does, like introducing Internet censorship in Germany or enforcing data retention (Vorratsdatenspeicherung…)

    2. In earlier years I didn’t support most of the eco-oriented policies of the Gruene. I still don’t support abandoning the nuclear power plants, but I do agree on their opinion on fossil fuels. I would be happy if we would double the gas taxation, reaching the old “5 Mark fuer den Liter Benzin”.

    Reasons not to vote for them:

    – I’m not sure about the Gruene, but at least the FDP supported the Merkel-Muentefering-Sommer-etc economic stimulus packages which wasted tons of money.

    – I have large doubts about the Gruene supporting budget consolidation after the current crisis. They’re too much into wasting money for social benefits.

    – I have some doubts about the FDP in this respect, too. Decreasing taxes is a good thing, but not as long as the state has as many debts as we have right now…

  3. Martin said, on May 6, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Well, they are in the opposition. It’s there job not to support the stuff. I mean they always can say, nah we don’t like it. Not a lot to loose. Only to be associated with chieldporn to shut them up, because being against internet censoring.

    But why focusing on Gruende and FDP? (I mean that you won’t consider voting purple, even as a joke is clear^^) But what about
    http://www.piratenpartei.de/

    I know, there “Parteiprogram” misses some important fields, but hey they are young (and need the money) :). (And I think they are still missing some supporter signatures to be allowed to participate in the German Elections. But for the European Parliament they can, afaik)

  4. Ulf said, on May 6, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Indeed, both the Greens and the FDP have often disappointed me when they were in charge, just like the current government.

    I agree with most of what the Piratenpartei proposes, maybe apart from their copyright laws. However, I believe that they don’t have a serious chance of getting political powers. I mean, giving my Erststimme to the Greens in Stuttgart will probably be a wasted vote, too. However, the chances of the Greens to get a Direktmandat are higher than the Piratenpartei’s chances to make the 5% barrier.

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to vote for the European Parliament.

  5. scytale said, on May 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    @Martin: I think this is the main advantage of the pirates. They only intervene in things they are familiar with. I think you can’t say that about most other (bigger) political parties.

    @Ulf: If I remember correct, at least in Sweden the pirates have a realistic chance to make to European Parliament. So why don’t give it a try in Germany?

  6. Ulf said, on May 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Hi scytale, thanks for stopping by! :-)

    I like your point, that the Piratenpartei only takes position in those fields where they really have an opinion. Yes, I wish there was a party which would make politics only in limited fields. Unfortunately the Piratenpartei didn’t choose the right fields for me.
    I don’t want those open access laws, for example. However, I want to vote for a party that has sustainability in mind: bringing state debts to an end, increasing taxation on fossil fuels (including flight and coal taxation) as well as supporting renewable energies. This is what I believe are the important questions of our time. And the European integration, I also consider that to be important.

    Things like the copyright laws, the freedom of information and data protection might also be relevant, but I think that we’re fine if we just don’t change the current situation to the worse (which unfortunately our government is doing).
    Still, these are questions of lower priority for me.

    Why I believe that the Piratenpartei has no chance to make the 5% threshold? Now, look at the e-petition which is running right now. I believe that everyone who votes for the Piratenpartei would sign that petition. My hopes are that the petition gets maybe 150,000 signatures. For the European Parliament we have a voter turnout of about 45%, and maybe 75% for the Bundestag election. My estimate is that the Piratenpartei could do 0.5% for the EP and 0.3% for the Bundestag. About 10x the current mobilization is required to seriously have a chance…

  7. scytale said, on May 9, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Yep, most probably you are right. But I don’t wanna support any party which was in the government in the last years… DIE LINKE let’s go!!!!

    Just a joke… okay, and also a bad one… ;)


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