Hacking symbolic of illegal content on the web

© iStock.com/supershabashnyi

Federal Economic Affairs Minister Zypries met today with representatives of the internet, digital and content industries. Representatives from the academic world and youth protection organisations as well as consumers and public prosecutors also attended the roundtable meeting, held at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy to discuss practical solutions for combating illegal content on the web. The main focus of the discussion was the question of what legal instruments or rules could be applied to effectively combat illegal content, such as hate speech, terror propaganda, web content that is harmful to young people and copyright or trademark infringements.

Minister Zypries said: “It is important for me that we find good solutions that are effective and easy to implement while ensuring that providers can continue to offer innovative services. Our discussion further focused on the issue of liability exemption for host provides, which, in my view, should be maintained.”

The European eCommerce Directive defines a procedure for the notification and removal of illegal content on the internet (notice & action procedure) without specifying in detail how this procedure is to be conducted. This means there are currently no clear rules at European level for the said procedure. To improve this situation, the Federal Government has started to take legislative measures such as adopting the Network Enforcement Act. In addition, the business community has launched a number of voluntary initiatives aimed at self-regulation. Furthermore, the Internet complaint offices have been working very successfully on this topic for several years now.

The European Commission is also addressing the issue: in its Mid-term Review on the Digital Single Market Strategy, it announced that it will adopt guidelines for notice & action procedures by the end of 2017. The Federal Economic Affairs Ministry is supporting this European-based approach.