Hide Techdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Did A German Court Just Outlaw Spam Blocking?

from the wait-a-second... dept

A German court has apparently ruled that it is illegal to block email based on the content of the email. The reasoning, is that email is confidential, and any content-based filter is obviously “opening” a confidential message (which might sound similar to some early complaints about Gmail), thus breaking the law. The case itself is an interesting one, where a university decided (without telling anyone) that they would filter out any email that mentioned a fired employee. That seems to go above and beyond what’s reasonable or smart (imagine when someone sends an email asking who is taking over the work of a fired employee, or referring to something that was done by that employee in the past) — but should it be illegal? Either way, if the ruling stands, then it certainly sounds like most spam filters would suddenly become illegal in Germany.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Did A German Court Just Outlaw Spam Blocking?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Armin (user link) says:

You are missing half of the facts and background

I don’t have the time to go into much detail, but you are missing a huge chunk of information.
If you know someone who speaks German get him/her to translate it, possibly one of those online translators might give you a good enough translation as well. Here are three links with good summaries (in German):
From a pure legal point of view spam filtering has always been illegal in Germany, same as the postman isn’t allowed to throw away junk mail instead of delivering it.
But there are enough legal provisions for providers or companies to provide spam filters. E.g. they can make it part of the Ts&Cs of the contract that the customer signs. Also a lot of providers just quarantine spam, allowing the customer to review the spam if they so wish (who knows, someone might be interested in Viagra, Cialis or fake Rolexes?)
And finally no spammer will be able to claim a right of his spam to be delivered: For the simple reason that (unlike the US where you have to opt-out) Europe requires opt-in. Which the spammers will be struggling to prove.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...