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.

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  • identicon
    Jared, 18 Jan 2005 @ 12:44pm

    Viruses?

    I know that the article said blocking is allowed when a viral threat is imminent, but aren't all messages technically a viral threat?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Armin, 18 Jan 2005 @ 2:09pm

    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):
    http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/politik/0,1518,337177,00.html
    http://www.heise.de/newsticker/m eldung/55201
    http://www.heise.de/ct/03/26/186/
    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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