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Germany Legislates For Mandatory Web Filters 309

An anonymous reader writes "Germany's Minister for Families has announced a legislative initiative to force ISPs to implement a government-mandated block list (in English), which will be updated daily. The BKA (Germany's equivalent of the FBI) will be in charge of generating and maintaining the list. As usual, this is being brought in under the 'fight child porn' guise. The minister is quoted as saying: 'We must not water down the problem' in reply to being challenged that this law and technology could be used to censor other content. She then went on to say: 'I can't know what wishes and plans future governments will develop.' She has agreed the principle of the legislation with the interior minister and the technology minister, which in German coalition government terms means it's pretty much a done deal."
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Germany Legislates For Mandatory Web Filters

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  • Heil.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hognoxious ( 631665 )
      Impressive, a Godwin first post.
    • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) *

      Sad but true in a way. Though it doesn't apply just to Nazis there are many other regimes that came before that were far worse and there have been and will be many others probably far worse still(note: I am not defending Nazism only saying that yes in fact things can get worse than that).

      The first steps on that road and down most of its length the paving stones are made of personal freedoms taken, especially those that limit speech or aim to limit thought.

      I know why Germany is so keen on keeping Nazism de

      • by Ruede ( 824831 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:26PM (#26472629)

        funny thing. racism isnt dead in germany. media and false education reflected the picture of a racist now a days. ppl that hate jews or whatever dont feel themselves as racists etc...

        a racist/nazi in germany has a shaved head wearing boots and a bomber jacket. --- see the similarity to "how to recognize a jew" back in the NS days? nothing changed in germany.
        try it out yourself with only having 3mm hair length... ppl will look at you like you just ate a baby while the german government is taking a fascistoid(?) path... without anyone noticing...

        not all fascism looks like that what we already saw in history.

        oh and the approach of killing child porn with a filter is in my eyes the wrong way, how about getting the pages down? how about not cooperative country receive an embargo on whatever hurts them? oh wait that would eliminate the tool to limit the freedom of any citizen on our planet...

        • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:40PM (#26472917)

          We all know the old
          "Your post advocates a

          ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

          approach to fighting spam."

          Is there an equivalent to this old form for child porn?

          This news item advocates a
          ( ) technical (x) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante
          approach to fighting spam.
          This idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to this particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)
          (x) Other legitimate uses would be affected
          ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
          ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
          ( ) The police will not put up with it
          (X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once

          etc etc etc
          Has anyone made one yet or should I start?

  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:40PM (#26467461)

    in reply to being challenged that this law and technology could be used to censor other content. She then went on to say:

    "I can't know what wishes and plans future governments will develop."

    In other words... MWAAAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by reeeh2000 ( 1328037 )
      Stop it. The internet isn't yours to censor. All you accomplish by this is that you force regular people to break the law to get information.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you meant...


      If you're going to have an evil laughter, do it right, man!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      One thing that I'm certain would be a part of future "wishes and plans" to censor (if not already part of the proposed filter) would be Nazi paraphernalia. Of course, it starts with the indefensible neo-Nazi sites and hate groups, but gradually, this sort of thing can begin to erode the historical record.

      Could this ultimately help Germany develop historical blind spots?

      • by mraudigy ( 1193551 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:09PM (#26468213)
        Censorship for "the good of the people" will inevitably lead to "whats good for the govenment". And whats good for the government is hardly ever good for the people.
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:53PM (#26469285)
        The ban on Nazi paraphenalia in Germany has always seemed a little bit off to me. I understand the reasons why they have the ban, and I am not suggesting embracing a Forth Reich, but when I hear about the ban, the quote that always comes to mind is:

        When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

        Surly the communists were at the time, considered as bad as the Nazis.

        • by Bloke down the pub ( 861787 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:03PM (#26472147)

          I am not suggesting embracing a *Forth* Reich

          Och, are ye nae?

          *Surly* the communists were at the time

          A braw bunch o miserable bastids, aye, that they were. Och.

          Noo awa wi ye, or I'll put the heid on ye.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hordeking ( 1237940 )

        One thing that I'm certain would be a part of future "wishes and plans" to censor (if not already part of the proposed filter) would be Nazi paraphernalia. Of course, it starts with the indefensible neo-Nazi sites and hate groups, but gradually, this sort of thing can begin to erode the historical record.

        Could this ultimately help Germany develop historical blind spots?

        It'll eventually lead to people forgetting what the Nazis were about. And of course, someone will eventually decide that the gov't is hiding something because the Nazis had something right (and the gov't doesn't want you to know about it); eventually it will lead to Nazi sympathizers.

    • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:09PM (#26469635)

      What's most worrisome is that the excuse is so, so bad.

      Child porn? On the open web? Really?

      I'm pretty sure at this point, anyone peddling child porn is entirely doing it through encrypted networks and through isolated darknets even. All the low-hanging fruit of publicly available actual child porn has either been dealt with or can be dealt with in a manner far, far less heavy handed than web filtering. What good does filtering the general web do?

      Crying "child porn" is just the sugar to make the poison go down.

  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:47PM (#26467643) Homepage

    and couldnt handle it... welcome to the new world order

    • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:51PM (#26467733)

      It really is depressing, so many states are bringing in their own petty versions of the chinese firewall that it's getting close to critical mass where in any country where it isn't done the call will become "well they're doing it in all these other countries!They care about the children there! Protect the children!"

      • Exactly. Time to protect the children. The only way to do this is to make abortion mandatory and seal up all vag. That way, instead of pursing the pedophiles, we can cut off the source.
        • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:00PM (#26469441) Journal

          The irony is the Doublespeak.... er talk:

          - "We must not allow children to have access to pornography or nudity!"
          - "We must start teaching our children about sex and sex-related diseases - even as early as kindergarten."


          So how do I, as a parent and teacher, educate my children about sex & how to avoid disease, if all the sites are being blocked by government filters? Ooops! I swear the pro-big-governent people have split personalities - the left side of the brain doesn't know what the right side is doing, and so we get contrary policies that nullify one another.

          Freedom is the answer. "From time to time some persons may abuse their freedoms, but the inconvenience of these abuses is minor compared to the inconvenience of loss of liberty for all persons, also called tyranny." - Founder of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson

      • It really is depressing, so many states are bringing in their own petty versions of the chinese firewall that it's getting close to critical mass where in any country where it isn't done the call will become "well they're doing it in all these other countries!They care about the children there! Protect the children!"

        I'm far less concerned about this. Why shouldn't we block this material? This isn't "free speech", not by a long shot. It's unprotected by the constitution (speaking from a US standpoint), and t

        • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#26472669) Homepage

          - It puts in place an infrastructure to block off access to anything. The filters don't care if the list feed to them is child porn or bomb receipts or the political program of the opposition to the government.

          - You can avoid stealth censorship under the flag of filtering child porn if you publish the list regularly for scrutinity. But then all people actually interested in child porn will know where to look. That's one of the reasons why any filter list which was used for a longer time was considered secret and not to be published. So this means the filter list will be a secret then.

          - It doesn't solve the problem, it makes it worse. If you block the public access to child porn, it doesn't go away, it just is more harder to find. And the people creating it and putting it online are harder to find too.

          - People who look at pictures of children to masturbate don't stalk real children to get sexually aroused. And they don't feel an urge to kill the child to cover their tracks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by QCompson ( 675963 )

          But in principle, I have no problem with the government banning unprotected stuff like this. Never, including at our nations founding, was this sort of material considered protected free speech.

          I'm sorry, but the founding fathers didn't have child pornography in mind as a possible exception to the rights protected by the First Amendment. In fact, the Supreme Court only ruled that child pornography was unprotected speech in 1981 (or 82?).

          Despite the predominant groupthink of the past few years, the possession of certain pictures being considered the most heinous crime imaginable was not always the case.

          And it's not a black and white issue. Child pornography has always had a vague and fluid

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        If all ( most ) countries censor it will eventually be turned over to the UN under the guise of WTO compliance and the 'firewall' wont be needed anymore. One world government, here we come.

        Freedom: i hope you enjoyed it while we had it.

        Id say time to break out Freenet for every day use but the ISPs have effectively neutered that route by introducing bandwidth caps.

        And depressing isn't the right word, disgusting is more like it.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Welcome to Tor...
    • Can someone explain something to me? If they want to block things harmful to children, and theoretically such things are illegal already, why don't they just arrest those responsible for all this horrible activity?

      Oh yeah, the Internet allows you to see stuff from other countries. Hmmm Isolationist much? When does the book burning start? I don't think there is anything new about this kind of world order... except the information media. Sounds like regular old fashioned authoritarianism, or whatever 'ism' yo

  • they don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:52PM (#26467775)

    When will legislators learn that censoring the Internet will not fix the problem, it will force it deeper underground. The creeps who want to look at child porn will still have access to it, they'll just get better at hiding it.

    • by conureman ( 748753 )

      It's all about hosing off the slippery slope. This is why the filthy speech movement had to be crushed at all cost. There must also always be a creep du jour to shine a light on the problem, remember. Once we run out of perverts we'll see about YOUR vile proclivities.

  • by sleeponthemic ( 1253494 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:53PM (#26467799) Homepage
    .. to the point where it is easier to filter the entire pipe rather than having the sites taken down?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thanshin ( 1188877 )

      Where exactly is child porn legal to host to the point where it is easier to filter the entire pipe rather than having the sites taken down?

      1.- It's always easier to filter the entire pipe.
      2.- Questioning the filter clearly indicates you must be a pedophile. Or a terrorist.

      Or both. ... Somehow. .... Maybe you strap kiddy porn to your bombs, or something.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      The internet, being truly world-wide, has countries involved which do not have the same laws that you have in your country. There is -always- somewhere to post those sites you would take down.

    • .. to the point where it is easier to filter the entire pipe rather than having the sites taken down?

      The legality of hosting doesn't really matter. Consider for a moment how easy it is to implement a national filtering proxy and add an entry to blacklist, compared to how much work actually goes into taking down a site.

      After someone reports an offending site to the national authorities, they have to contact the authorities of the nation where the site is hosted (either directly, or by an organization like interpol or whatever). Then that nations authorities have to find out where this particular site is ho

  • Der China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:54PM (#26467811)
    Everyone should watch the film "The Lives Of Others"

    It appears Germany is returning to the days of East Germany
    • by he-sk ( 103163 )

      The Life Of Others dealt with the secret police spying on the people. That's not the same as censorship.

  • in a word (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @12:58PM (#26467919)


  • Vee haf Vays, of making you block", and slapped them in the face with her black leather gloves, that matched perfectly with her black leather coat.

    Ilsa, she-wolf of the Internet.

    FTFA, she also stated: "Die meisten Menschen werden diese Stopp-Seite nie sehen." Which means something like, "Most people will never see this stop (block) page."

    ... until the BKA boys add, or to the list.

  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:03PM (#26468041)

    The only thing we need to implement a fully encrypted internet is a reason to do so.

    And then the real fun will come.


    More people should read "the art of war" and concentrate on the paragraph about not starting battles you're going to lose until they finally understood it's meaning.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Urza9814 ( 883915 )

      You mean something like Freenet?
      Or I suppose I2P?
      Or even Tor I believe...

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:04PM (#26468079) Homepage Journal
    1st block sites that show/promotes child pornography... looks ok
    then go after sites that shows models that look underage... a bit more debatable
    then go after all porn... something is about to explode
    then block "by mistake" the opposite party web sites around next election... oops!
  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:10PM (#26468233) Homepage

    There is a global push by certain interests to get governments and ISPs to support filtering. The reason has nothing to do with child porn, that is a justification that ensures no-one will complain... would you defend the rights of child pornographers?

    The real motivation here from big business is first to block the global trade in copyrighted digital goods: music, movies, TV (Vivendi, IFPI, et al). Second, to sell masses of shiny technology (Cisco et al). Third, to lock down the computer and turn it into a controlled environment where FOSS is not permitted (MSFT et al).

    Governments are eager for this because they trust big business to draw the line, and because they do not trust their citizens. They fear the end of the State thanks to a flat global digital economy, and the firewalls are about stopping and controlling that.

    Note the Data Retention Directive passed three years ago which mandated the storage of data on every communication (phone call, email, web click), which banned anonymous wifi, cybercafes, and mobile phones, and which was also passed as a tool against "child pornographers and organised criminals".

    This would be very depressing, since the State (and don't forget, every State in existence was born in blood) has all the power.

    However, the digital society seems to have its first world leader, and IMO the old industrial world, with its censorships and tolls anti-social property models, is already on the way out.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:10PM (#26468239)

    Well, let's do the math...

    Approximately 23% of the world population is online now. There are approximately 6.7 billion people on the planet right now. So about 1.5 billion people. And let's say 5% of them are regularily active and have contribute 1 web page per month; and everybody else is a lurker and never contribute anything. That's 900 million web pages per year, or 246,564 per day. Now we know the growth is far higher than this, but let's humor ourselves with the low-ball estimate.

    Now, let's also assume that someone is going to be looking at these websites. We'll say it takes 20 seconds for them to view and categorize a website for their black list. and let's assume they're slaved to their desk for the entire 8 hours, never blinking. That's 480 minutes of slaving, which gives us 1,440 reviews they can make per day. So to keep up with our low-ball estimate, they need 172 net slaves doing nothing but reviewing web pages. All day. Every day. And they will not stop until all the pr0n is found. Now... stop and realize the numbers are orders of magnitude higher. -_- Also realize that the internet is not the web. There are dozens if not hundreds of protocols to monitor, across many mediums -- cell phones, telecommunications, wifi, and good old fashioned sneaker-net.. e-mails, text messages, picture messages... the list goes on.

    This, fundamentally, is the problem with large-scale surveillance of the population. It's too resource intensive. Even if you have algorithms that are 99.9% accurate in identifying "bad" material, with 900 million new web pages per year, that's 900,000 webpages that are incorrectly flagged -- 2,500 people's lives ruined by false accusation. Per day.

    And just like sex offender registries and other draconian measures to keep someone who's been "touched" by the system in it forever, as soon as the technology exists to do the same thing to people on the internet... They too shall be endlessly recycled and chewed on by a faceless and uncaring system. And the justification shall be that it's okay to ruin a few innocent lives if it protects the rest of us from the big bad boogie men.

    Here's my point, fundamentally. Let's say there are a 200,000 -- in Germany alone -- that are pedophiles. Out of about 8 million. And let's say that you have a method of detection where you run these people through it and 99.9% of the time, it gives the right result. What that means is for 8,000 people -- would guess wrong if you ran the entire population through it. What that means is your "99.9%" accurate system flags about 1 person in 20 as a bad guy when they're not. Of course, this assumes that 1 person per 40 is a pedophile. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's unreasonably high... So that means that the 1 per 20 is an optimistic case. Think about that. 1 in 20 people that the system flags is innocent. When the hysteria over the crime is such that the mere accusation is enough to destroy a person, is this a number we're comfortable with?

    And if you're thinking it's "just" a black list.. Don't forget that your access attempts are logged. Just why were you trying to access a site we know to have child porn on it, Citizen?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by a-zarkon! ( 1030790 )
      There you go, applying analysis and logic to political grandstanding... Seriously - if they have identified sites they want to blacklist, why blacklist instead of investigate and prosecute? I have to assume there are probably some jurisdictions that don't have resources to investigate and prosecute KP, but probably not too many. Go after the people posting and accessing the content, collect evidence, build a case, and put them on trial. I would suspect that actually doing the law enforcement and legal le
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Simply blocking the general public from hitting sites creates new opportunities for abuse of power, poor implementation, etc. and doesn't seem to actually do much to advance the effort to stop the exploitation of children. At best it forces it further underground.

        Ordinarily, you'd be correct. Inexperienced criminals are caught early, leaving only experienced criminals. So methods of catching criminals become more sophisticated, and eventually the only players are experienced ones. It's logical. But some criminal misconduct is not rational. White collar crimes, theft, burglary, drug dealing -- these are often crimes committed by people who think rationally and consider their risks and exposures. But people driven by passion or emotion -- murder, rape, and assault, of

  • Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scwizard ( 941758 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:15PM (#26468379) Homepage Journal
    Most chlid porn isn't distributed over http, this is a complete waste.
  • by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:15PM (#26468385) Homepage Journal
    Finally, the formerly democratic governments have realized that the voter does not punish legislation (and illegal actions on behalf of the government agencies that are legalized later) against his own interests and now they are beginning to exploit it.

    I am opposed to elitism in general, but people who are so easily manipulated with FUD tactics and those who think voting expresses only ideological affinity, should not be allowed to vote.

    • As I infer from your signature you're Austrian right? Even if not would you, born and raised in a system still referred to as "Nazi-Germany" dare to resist the government? We all saw what happened to the G8 summit protesters or how well the RAF "revolution" back in the 70s worked. There is no discussion with the politicians and even mass demonstrations and constitutional hearing in front of the highest court is echos down the halls.

      What else is there to do? You can't resist the government, can't overthro
  • book burning (Score:2, Interesting)

    by muckracer ( 1204794 )

    Why would anyone have a problem with burning pages deemed degenerate by ze deutsche government? Only degenerates themselves (who'll be next).

  • by CharonX ( 522492 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:23PM (#26468533) Journal
    Or what Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri taught me: Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.
  • Goodwin's Law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anon E. Muss ( 808473 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:28PM (#26468659)
    Does Goodwin's Law still apply even if references to Nazi Germany are factually correct? :-)
  • Is anyone keeping tabs on internet censorship legislation?

    Is there a site?

    It seems, like "terrorism" was an excuse for anything and everything under Bush and his bitch (Blair), "child porn" seems likewise an excuse for internet censorship.

  • It's not that hard to set up opportunistic encryption, [] especially if you own your own name servers. That would be a good first step toward a more private internet. All we need is an excuse for people to start using it...
  • Of course, in order to protect our children from porn, they'll have to monitor all our online access. Instead of mandating the web sites put porn tag in the Metadata, that way we can decide for ourselves what web site to look at .. :)
  • by Timosch ( 1212482 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:08PM (#26469601)
    Seriously, we'll have federal elections (and a bunch of other elections: european parl., state-level) this year, but I doubt that anything will change.
    CDU: Merkel's party, Conservative, currently drifting to the middle. Schaeuble, our Minister for the Interior (which includes police in Germany), is one of the worst surveillance guys, and he's a CDU man. Lots of other 1984 fellows, too. --> No option.
    SPD: Social democrats. One of the two big parties (together with the CDU). Currently in a coalition with CDU. Some good guys in there, but many others (including most of their MPs) agreed to laws like this. Used to be my party, but obviously it no longer is.
    FDP: Liberal. Have a lot of good guys regarding civil liberties (including three who have repeatedly and successfully went to the courts to struck "Anti terror laws" down). But I don't like their economic model, and above all many of them have no backbone.
    Greens: Same as FDP regarding civil liberties and surveillance. Might be an option (although for me they are too naive on the environmental area), but voting greens will mean a SPD-Greens coalition (because FDP and Greens are the smaller parties and usually form coalitions with one of the bigger ones).
    Left party: Just a bunch of populists.
    The reason why such a lot on internet censorship etc. is being passed now might be our "Grand coalition" (CDU+SPD), which has a strong majority. However when I look at other countries, I see similar problems, so that can't be the only reason.
    Unfortunately many people willingly give up their freedoms if the government gives them an excuse (terrorism or child porn), but they just don't see how a filter like that could easily be transformed into an anti-government-criticism filter.
    All that surveillance scares me. What the hell is wrong with my country?

    PS: For the German-speaking guys around here, have a look at this [] essay by Burkhard Hirsch (an FDP man). An excellent explanation on why civil liberties are so important.
  • Implementing American notions of security one goose-step at a time.

    est. 1949
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:12PM (#26469687)

    What *really* creeps me out are these reprints of Goebbels stuff, that are being hawked today:,8599,1871736,00.html [].

    The government doesn't seem to need to take any action against that.

    The joke is that the publisher is a Britain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why does that creep you out? It's history, it happened. It provides great context to what's taught in class. Wouldn't you want to know what was being said then, so that you can compare it to what's being said today? It's a primary source if there ever was one....

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