German Government Steps Away from 2009 Filtering Plan

By: daniel oppermann on 9 February 2010

The German government declared its intention to not continue with the Internet filtering law which was passed in 2009 to block child pornography online.

Since the former government, made up of a coalition of Germany┬┤s two biggest parties, the social democratic SPD and the conservative CDU, passed the law in June/July 2009, it remained a controversially discussed topic in Germany. Especially civil society groups including the Internet community criticized the then Minister of Family Ursula von der Leyen for using child porn as an excuse to create a structure of online censorship.

An online petition set up in 2009 postulating the cancellation of the law-making process was signed by more than 130.000 people, making it the biggest online petition in Germany. Due to the controversial discussion about the law, President Koehler refused to sign it so far, for which reason it did not come into effect.

Another factor to inhibit the law was the national election in September 2009 after which a new coalition of the conservative CDU and the liberal FDP formed the current ruling government. During the negotiations between the two parties the FDP made clear that it did not support the law how it was passed the year before. However, to form a coalition, the CDU agreed to wait another year until the law could be implemented.

During the last months after the elections the new government discussed (mostly internal) how to solve the conflict between the two ruling parties regarding this issue. In February 2010 the German magazine Spiegel published the government┬┤s new purpose to not block child porn websites but to delete them, a decision which is supported by many critics of the 2009-law. For this reason the ruling coalition is planning to develop a new law in the coming months which will concentrate on deleting instead of blocking.