Techdirt Deemed Harmful To Minors In Germany

from the ah,-censorship dept

Hanno alerts us to the news that Techdirt has apparently been deemed harmful to minors in Germany. The German Media Control Authority has apparently been pushing internet “youth filters” to protect kids from dangerous things online. So far, it has officially approved two internet filters. Hanno got his hands on one and discovered that Techdirt was one of many blocked sites (Google translation from the original German) — as the filter declares that Techdirt has pornographic images and depictions of violence. We do?

Hanno reached out to a spokesperson for the JusProg filter, and got the usual runaround. “We do not want to censor political opinions.” The spokesperson claims that the system is automated and looks at links. When asked why Techdirt was blocked, it was explained that since we use certain words “perhaps twenty times” in discussions about pornography and censorship, the system deemed us clearly a danger. Apparently, we can appeal to JusProg, but it appears that might require some familiarity with German… So, in the meantime, let’s just hope that we haven’t already damaged the youth of Germany too much.

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Comments on “Techdirt Deemed Harmful To Minors In Germany”

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124 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I would be shocked that you are not aware of this Mike, considering that the body sends up multiple registered mail notices to the site owner.

Oh, wait. You are hiding your whois information (for whatever reason) and Tucows likely didn’t accept anything for you or forward it on.

Perhaps you are now learning a lesson in why hiding your whois isn’t the best idea (plus may create additional liabilty for you in Canada, where you are not located).

Rapnel (profile) says:

Mental Imagery?

If a picture says a thousand words then how many pictures do the words ‘#u@%ing @unts’ conjure up? All kinds I’d say. That $h!t goes both ways.

Now I have to watch my potty mouth. I hate having to watch my potty mouth. I was taught not to look at the keys.

People are so sensitive whilst they impose their moral boundaries onto others.

Bad words are bad.

hfbs (profile) says:

Re:

In what way is that related to anything the article mentions?

In case you missed it, the article is about how automated censorship protocols have collateral damage. If Techdirt can be blocked because it supposedly contains porn and violence then it’s entirely possible that other legitimate sites are government censored to ‘protect the kids’. This type of collateral damage is just unacceptable.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

I would be shocked that you are not aware of this Mike, considering that the body sends up multiple registered mail notices to the site owner.

“The body” being a private filtering company? Um… no, you’re completely wrong (as per usual) on this one. The filtering companies does not send “multiple registered mail notices to the site owner.”

Oh, wait. You are hiding your whois information (for whatever reason) and Tucows likely didn’t accept anything for you or forward it on.

Again, no. I turned on private whois 2 weeks ago to cut down on the spam we get. If they sent us messages before that, we would have received them. They did not.

Care to take back your clueless assertions?

Perhaps you are now learning a lesson in why hiding your whois isn’t the best idea (plus may create additional liabilty for you in Canada, where you are not located).

Funny, then, that .ca automatically does the same thing and hides whois as a default.

Hiding your whois is pretty standard these days to avoid spam.

Ninja (profile) says:

I think it might be the chaotic mass referred to as “TechDirt readers” that might be the issue. We are rated 18+ in Germany!

Now jokes apart, it’s censorship “for the children”. I honestly fear for my children (if I ever have any and I plan to) because every time some idiot do or says something “for the children” something good gets broken and we the adults and our children lose another piece of our freedom and of our culture. But of course it’s everything for the children. I wonder if Hitler ever said anything about cleansing the world for the pure German children…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

It would appear that this may be an outcrop of this quasi government group:

http://www.bundespruefstelle.de/bpjm/information-in-english.html

As for your whois, the private protection was on there quite a while ago. I seem to remember this being a point of discussion in the past. You have have turned it on and off, but I can remember it being a point of discussion quite a while back. Sadly, your search on this site isn’t very good, so it’s hard to find anything.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

The war is on

Here?s an example of what the world censorship legislation was trying to do: censor websites people in power don?t like. Clean and simple. Actual porn sites won?t be shut down because they are popular with politicians. Putting TechDirt on the block list wasn?t an accident. It was put there. Anyone who blames a bad algorithm is being disingenuous. The internet is problematic since it allows ordinary denizens to be informed as to what is going on. The war is on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Please show this to be 100% false. I don’t think so, I have done a whois on your stuff in the past… I remember laughing because it came up with a Canadian address. I think it was during a discussion of your being a California company hosted in Salt Lake City or some place like that. Maybe a year or so ago.

I’ll see if someone I know has access to look at the whois history. Domaintools does say your whois changed recently, and has had at least 24 significant changes. I don’t intend to pay to dig up the historical records.

I do notice that you moved to an anti-DDoS host. Having problems?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

Hahahaha. You are hilarious. Let’s compare your two recent comments. When caught on being completely wrong about the fact that this system IS automated, your excuse was:

It is so hard at time to read your posts completely

Then, like two minutes later, you say to Mike:

Oh, and how nice of you to ignore the rest of my post.

No wonder you have been here for years and yet have been unable to rise above the status of “laughingstock”

mudlock (profile) says:

It's All True

To be serious for a moment: Yes, Techdirt discusses violence and pornography all the time. So often, that you find it useful to have tags for these topics (and the porn tag misses all the stories about Perfect 10‘s ongoing legal adventures.)

Ironically, these tags are almost always used in the context of censorship: either censorship of violent video games, or the prevention of pornography as an excuse for censorship provisions in overly-burdensome copyright laws.

It would be idiotic to claim that Techdirt doesn’t discuss violence and porn; so don’t be an idiot. Instead, use this as a teachable moment, about how filters can’t distinguish between ACTUAL violence and porn and public DISCUSSION about the issues of violence and porn, making their use a dangerous assault on free and open speech.

Trails (profile) says:

Re:

Just so I’m clear, the default position is censorship?

The government’s mission should be towards truth and accuracy, not “control notwithstanding objections”.

This highlights the problems with these systems, wherein the default is to try to lockdown information. Fortunately, most of these systems are inept and easily circumvented. I doubt it’s stopped much access from Germany, and in general has not stopped kids from getting dirty and/or violent images.

All systems like this do is waste people’s money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Oh and Marcus, please note my post was very short and on point. That Mike chose to ignore 50% of a 7 line post pretty much tells me just isn’t bothering to check. I am guessing he realized I knew what I was talking about after all. It may not be the same agency, but he doesn’t seem to be aware of this one.

That and the whois. Classic stuff from Mr Denial in California.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

It's All True

I agree that that is certainly the case so shouldn’t the automated system used to check these things also check CONTEXT? You know, is it all text or are there actual links, pictures, drawings etc dealing with these horrid subjects?

Use of the words alone should never trigger a ban. There may be other reasons for considering Techdirt dangerous to minors. Concepts like free speech and open discussion in a public area.

Now THAT could be dangerous!

Chargone (profile) says:

Re:

you think that’s fun?

NZ has a Chief Censor.
he has an office with a fair number of staff.

best part is, things banned by the Chief Censor’s office outside of wartime, to the best of my knowledge: one HIGHLY offensive T-shirt (generally offensive, not religions or ideology based or anything like that.), one apparently extremely offensive book that, among other things, denied the holocaust took place, said book’s author (not a citizen, not allowed in the country, and from memory that wasn’t just because of the book)… and a bunch of porn to extreme even for the R18 lable here.

other than that they just assign ratings to movies and games (of which only R13, R16 and R18 have Any actual restrictions, and that is only that they may not be provided to individuals under those ages. the R13 is also basically obsolete as it has almost 100% overlap with the current top end non-restricted ratings), and review books (or anything else of similar nature) that they get actual legitimate complaints about. (generally speaking things only get banned if their production is causing actual harm (such as child porn), or if they are so morally reprehensible by current standards that failure to do so is likely to cause major public outcry… which is rare.)

that’s legitimate censorship by a dedicated government body for that purpose. it’s widely known about, generally accepted, non-partisan (except for the fact that it’s about the only job where a question of someone’s morality is a valid reason to reject their appointment reguardless of whether they have ever actually been caught doing anything wrong or the like and sometimes people find certain appointments suspect as it’s Definitely a job in the ‘if you want it you’re unsuited for it’ catagory and they find the individual’s morality questionable and/or not to line up with their own. and even then it’s not exactly Partisan, so much as it tends to shift voters around a bit.) and you’d basically have to buy out the entire government in order to bribe the guy to do something contrary to what he’s meant to without it being found out in fairly short order and the guy being fired, his decision reversed, and i think the penalties for such things are probably pretty harsh.

then there’s all the Other censorship that comes from powerful people abusing the law, the courts, and other government bodies. though there’s a lot less of that than in the USA, it’s still an issue. That’s the one that’s an actual problem.

Actual Censorship of political opinion and the like is caused by the latter. (save the rare occasion when said political opinion is both known to be false and likely to cause riots and the like.)

Chargone (profile) says:

A German by any other name is still a?

i especially love how all these places with euphemistic names are problematically restrictive and absusive of their powers.

while NZ’s Cheif Censor’s Office is all nice and layed back and spends most of their time Actually tracking down people making and distributing child porn and bringing them to justice, and the rest of their time assigning ratings to tv programs, movies and video games. (this is NOT a voluntary rating system, mind you, but the most restrictive, R ratings, are only limited to not providing the product in question to people under the listed age, and you’re looking at basically child porn or some sort of weird realistic torture based game or something before it gets outright banned. I’m not entirely sure where cartoons of a similar nature fall.)

this contrast amuses me.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

It could have nothing to do with us hurting GEMA’s feelings by pointing out how often they attempt to shakedown people.
Or pointing out the horrible laws that force the accused to prove a negative.
Or pointing out that people without computers are forced to pay fines for having downloaded a movie they never knew of.
Or pointing out GEMA and its love of censoring Nina.

Nope it has to be because we said the words porn to many times.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Who is TAM?

I am just an anonymous poster. Of course, if you want to use your admin powers to violate the anonymous standing, you might know who I am. But then again, that would be a serious violation of the principals protected by Techdirt’s founder and head koolaid mixer.

So which way you want it? Are you willing to accept that I am not who you think I am, or are you willing to violate the basic rules here to prove yourself wrong?

Look around, you have once again painted yourself into a corner Marcus. Will you ever learn?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

lol. I don’t have any “admin powers” with the comments. Nevertheless, it’s not hard to tell who you are. Moreover, despite your constant attempts to claim that finding consistency in the ACs is somehow an abuse of principles, we have all rejected that notion and explained to you why it’s not true (anonymity means you can’t be identified – it doesn’t mean multiple anonymous statements can’t be tied together).

So – are you denying that comment on the new year’s post was you? Shame… it was a damn good comment, one of the few times you actually made your points well. It would have been a great note to actually leave on: kind of a kick in the teeth to all of us, showing that maybe you weren’t a complete moron, despite acting like one 99% of the time. We would have had to accept that buried in all your bullshit were a few salient points worth examining and discussing. It was right around the time that one of your comments won Most Insightful too, I believe. Then you did disappear for a few weeks at the beginning of 2012, but suddenly returned and were back to same old dickhead TAM.

So sorry, no: we all know you who are, and I find your attempts to evade that pretty amusing – especially since you are clearly admitting that I’m right at the same time as saying I’m not, just in the hopes of catching me on what you (but nobody else) thinks is a violation of principles.

Look around: you have once again declared a victory that only exists inside your own deluded head. Will you ever learn? Will you ever grow the balls to keep your word and stay away from this blog that you hate so much? Sadly, I doubt it…

Androgynous Cowherd says:

The German Media Control Authority

The what?

Have they not learned from history over there??

You don’t have a state-run “media control authority” unless you’re either hoping to end up in that very bad place again, or else really, really stupid.

And yes, I consider the US FCC, to the extent that it tries to constrain content rather than just allocate spectrum, to be stupid too. But at least the FCC has no authority to mandate Internet filters or censorship!

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