Germany to ISPs: Use a Filter

BERLIN -- Five of the largest Internet service providers in Germany have signed "voluntary" contracts with the government to filter out child pornography.

The agreement was initiated by family minister Ursula von der Leyen and the nation's Federal Criminal Police Office. ISPs Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone/Arcor, Hanse Net, Kabel Deutschland and Telefonica O2, which between them have 75 percent of the German Internet access market, will filter for child porn via DNS, reports TechDirt.

Meanwhile, recent legislation passed last week in a similar initiative is being overseen by German Minister for Economics Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. The bill allows ISPs to track all who attempt to access a site on government blacklist and law enforcement may request information on those users.

The law, however, is riddled with holes, critics have said. The blacklist may include a site that only links to child porn -- even for research and data, possibly -- but not hosting content. Additionally, those who accidently come upon a banned site could be targeted, even if innocent. These gray areas of the law are what bother opponents the most.

According to the DailyPress, the Ministry of Family Affairs estimates its blacklist will include "at least a thousand" Web pages. Minister von de Leyen also hasn't ruled out blocking content beyond child porn, stating, "You cannot exclude what the federal government may want to exclude in the future." This suggestion has disturbed many free-speech groups.

The new law demands that all Internet services with more than 10 000 customers -- about 97 percent of all ISPs Germany -- must block porn sites on the blacklists, which will be issued by the government.

In related news, as reported Monday by, German rights holder groups are seeking a block of file-sharing sites in addition to the filtering of sites that threaten children.