back to article Germany poised to impose police-run block list

Germany’s main political parties have agreed the text of legislation designed to enshrine the blocking of selected internet sites in law. Critics of the plan insist that take down would be more effective – and express concerns that however well-intentioned a block list, it would forever be open to abuse by the state. The text …


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  1. King Edward I

    As bad as it is... least the redirection allows you to know a link has been blocked! No errors making it seem like the website is broken. an improvement over ours, but by no means good!

  2. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Let's over simplify it...

    If web filtering was as simple as creating block lists large corporations wouldn't have so many problems with their filtering solution. Anybody out there who runs a corporate filterign solution will tell you they have two problems. Firstly there is the issue of false positives, the number of sites that are blocked in error. Secondly there are the false negatives, the sites that slip through the net. Finally comes the big one: avoidance. There are several ways to avoid block lists. A lot of dodgy sites change their IP addresses and hostnames regularly. There are plenty of anonymous proxies out their, which also change their addresses and hostnames. Maybe the politicians pushing this nonsense should try googling something like "bypass websense" to see what's going on.

    A simple block list is next to worthless on today's internet. All it will do is create an administrative nightmare for ISPs and a false sense of security for politicians and civil servants. The deviants will still use the net to get their fix and the powers that be will be able to pretend it's not happening. Right up until the day that a high profile case gets the media asking why this much vaunted block list didn't work.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Well then...

    ... we can count the number of minutes until any site discussing the holocaust and the number of people killed during the same will be included on that list. Then sites with potentially libelious contents to the powers-that-be will be included.

    Führerstaat, Ich kann dich nicht vergessen.

  4. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Excellent idea

    Just what we need to make Tor, VPNs, darknets and anonymous browsing part of the mainstream internet.

  5. Martin Gregorie

    Why don't they..

    Why don't the Germans use takedown orders on German websites and reserve block lists for those outside their jurisdiction? That seems fair and rational as a general principle, which is that you:

    - use take down orders for objectionable content on sites falling under the national legal system where these orders can be directly enforced by the police. This would also allow wrong or mistaken take-downs to be challenged in court.

    - reserve the block lists for sites that national law can't touch.

    Of course, it follows that the law must explicitly state exactly what types of content is covered by the law to rule out scope creep.

  6. Christopher Ahrens

    RE: Let's over simplify it...

    "Right up until the day that a high profile case gets the media asking why this much vaunted block list didn't work"

    Ah but thats the point, at that point the Government officials wil say, "See it isn't working, we need to make it more restrictive!"

  7. JohnG

    Go for the source

    As the cyber activist mentioned in the article demonstrated, take down notices are quite effective. ISPs in most countries will be worried of the legal implications of carrying websites which contain child porn (or other illegal content) and will act to remove content against their AUPs.

    I seem to remember cases in the UK where the police used credit card records to indicate those who had used child porn sites which required payment. If it was so easy to block payments to allofmp3 in Russia (a matter of copyright), why is it so difficult to do the same for child porn sites?

  8. Nicholas Ettel
    Thumb Down

    @Grease Monkey

    Not to mention that a filtering solution such as this will have very little to absolutely no affect on Tor or other Dark/Shadow nets.

    A "solution" such as this only treats the symptoms and not the disease... any medical professional will tell you that this type of solution simply does not work. And the analogy is completely transferrable to this situation.

  9. Charles 9

    Obvious counterpoint...

    "According to Freude, 250 out of 348 providers responded, and 61 sites were taken down within the first 12 hours."

    For those pursuing the act, the obvious answer to the "just issue a takedown notice" would be, "What about the remaining 98 sites? What about sites beyond the jurisdiction of Germany to enforce a takedown should they refuse?" If you can't take them down and ignorance is unacceptable, what alternative do you possess but to blacklist?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    91% voted for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    Read the translation, they interviewed 1832 people and 91% welcomed the new measures... details of which have not been announced yet. Doesn't it remind you of Iran? Even before the voting is finished and the boxes opened to be counted, they announce Ahmadinejad won by 65% to 35%.... .

    The questions they asked the people on the street phrased with 'murder' in the place of 'childporn' are:

    Q1. Is murder bad? Should police officers stop it or is it the wrong thing? 91% agree.

    Q2. Do you think stopping murder violates peoples freedoms to murder? 90% say no.

    Q3. Does blocking murder go too far? Or is it appropriate? 90% say it's appropriate.

    Q4. Will it succeed in stopping murder? 62% think it will not.

    So based on this, my plan to arrest everyone near a corpse to prevent murder is a popular measure..... what you mean I didn't tell you that's what I planned? But you agreed it was a good idea to prevent murder!

    Likewise, the German list will be junk like the Australian one. It will block whole sites when only individual images are claimed to be illegal (IWF blocking Wikipedia for a single album cover photo they claim infringed). It will block site as punishment for disagreeing (Australia blocks Wikileaks for making them look like idiots). It will block sites that disagree with the censors politics (Anti-abortion site blocked for showing dead baby photo on grounds it is child porn). It will grow to block Nazi sites, because these lists always grow. It will grow to block *anti*-Nazi sites because discussion of the bad they did glorifies their past.

    Block lists are a threat to a free society.

  11. Chris C

    IP addresses?

    "Following opposition from ISPs and anti-censorship activists, legislators have removed provisions that would have required ISPs to log every attempt to access a blocked site and to inform law enforcement agencies. Opponents pointed out that such a move could criminalise – or raise unwarranted suspicions – over anyone who clicked a link by accident, or was misdirected to it by a hacker."

    Or anyone who attempted to visit a site which happens to be hosted on a shared server, thus a single IP address, which hosts thousands of websites. But hey, as long as one child porn image is made inaccessible, it's all good, right?

    I think we can all agree that true child pornography (not a 17-year-old taking a picture of herself) is a scourge that needs to be removed and dealt with. But it seems that current methods have far too much collateral damage. Also at issue is the fact that when you click a link, you don't know what that linked-to page actually holds until you get there, and even then, the page may be different for different visitors. In other words, someone who is not looking for child porn may stumble upon some purely by mistake, yet most laws don't seem to care. The only reasonable way to get rid of it is to go after the sources and deal with them appropriately (in such a way so as to deter others).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't block any EU websites

    If the sites is blocked in all ISPs in Germany and this represents the consensus position, then they should publish the list for inspection.

    At the very least, if a website is hosted in the EU or US then they should be barred from blocking it, because a single phone call is enough to have the site removed. Child porn is illegal throughout the EU and so any site cannot contain childporn and stay on the internet hosted in the EU. ISPs remove them immediately they are notified.

    If it is not removed then it is not child porn and hence you cannot block it based on your bullshit censor list.

    Is it better to have a child porn site hosted in the EU taken down, so to block it in one country? Obviously it is better to have it taken down! So why are they NOT notifying the ISP and instead blocking the site?

    This is not an idle argument either, the Swedish block list was found to be blocking many ordinary EU & US sites! These sites don't contain child porn, yet the Swedish censor had added them to the list for reasons we will never know because there is no control mechanism on secret censorship.

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The fruits of populism

    Prof. von der Leyen has really only come up with the scam in order to get noticed before the next election. Along with another minister without portfolio, Annette Schavan - both have titles but under federal legislation little or no actual competence - they are desperate to be seen doing "something". And, of course, in our mediocracy, "think of the children" gets all the votes. Even if one of the consequences of the proposed law will be less resources will be devoted to preventing the production of child pornography. Of course, the main consequence will be to make the purveyors and consumers of questionable material even more sophisticated.

  14. Joe M

    Number theory tells me...

    that the cardinality of a set of natural numbers is an infinite. So if my gets blocked I might just set up, then etc.

    I guess at about they may give up trying to block me. Or I might start using the alphabet as well. Or...

    Oh what fun when you have morons to play with!

  15. Armus Squelprom

    Chris Ahrens has it right

    - - - > at that point the Government officials will say, "See it isn't working, we need to make it more restrictive!"

    And then we'll move to browsing within a state-designated 'walled garden', where there are no nudy pics or bad ideas to distract us from our obedient labour.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Excellent idea

    I'm not sure that TOR is really part of the answer. If the exit node has an ISP that filters content then wouldn't you still be blocked?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Avoiding the real issue

    As Charlie Clark as pointed out, this is a political manoeuvre proposed to gain votes.

    It avoids the real issue, that of child porn.

    When the countries of this world cannot even agree what the definition of a child is, with some countries being quite happy to let an 11 or 12 year old marry someone 30 to 40 years their senior. While others do not allow the consumption of alcohol until a person is 21 years old. Other communities are quite happy to leave babies and infants to starve to death if they happen to be the wrong gender. And some communities find it acceptable to allow prepubescent girls and boys to prostitute themselves for food.

    And that is before we begin the debate on the issue of what is an unacceptable image, these ranging from a bared ankle to goatse. Movies of people burning to death during a napalm bombing raid being viewed as shocking but good TV, while the sight of a bared breast can raise screams of outrage from the middle classes. A Hollywood movie showing people being shot with abundant blood and gore is considered suitable for a younger audience that a movie showing penetrative intercourse.

    Add to these the fact that recently senior politicians and judges in the westernised part of the world have found difficulty in differentiating between fact and fiction (and placing people on sex offender registers for drawn images.) And these same people have shown extreme difficulty in understanding that the public within their countries actually have rights and freedoms!

    All of these things are starting to show that censorship is in itself wrong. It is an abuse that is going to happen. Whether accidentally, or on purpose, the censoring mechanism will start to cover sites beyond the original scope, and no one will know that it is happening until after the abuse has occurred.

    We should want people to blunder upon CP sites. Once reported the officials in the hosting country can compare the content against their own laws. If legal there is nothing to be done. If illegal then action can be taken against the site owner. A realisation must be made that one country, even America, cannot force other countries to change their societies viewpoints, not without force of arms.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too bad is wasnt a month ago

    The germans are obviously smarter than swedish politicians in the sense that they did this after EC elections.

    It would have been interested to see if the Pirate Party would grab one or two EC chairs in germany as swedish pirates did.

  19. rsciw


    It's not mainly Zensursula (vd. Leyen) or that Schavan though, it's clear that "Stasi 2.0" Schaeuble is behind it.

    Of course though as you say they want to be remembered, because it's election time soon if I recall correctly.

    Unfortunately the majority of people in Germany are either dumb, blind or just don't care about the exploitations of this system, which most likely will happen. Germany does have a reputation for that ;)

  20. Wortel


    Is a cancer in the blood of democracy. There are better ways to solve these issues.

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