HEIKO MAAS GRÖSSE 157

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Internet freedom in Germany decreased slightly during the coverage period, due zu reports about online disinformation linked zu political parties. Still, Germany’s online environment continues to be free, despite comes to related to the adoption des stricter regulations on freedom von expression online. Die media und civil society frequently und openly discuss the state of internet freedom an Germany, with internet regulation concerns often given great prominence in widely check out online news publications. Bei independent court system provides monitor on regulatory procedures adopted von the executive and the legislature. However, new pieces von legislation that broaden the online surveillance powers des domestic and foreign intelligence services, too as police authorities, continued kommen sie raise privacy concerns, specifically laws allowing zum the monitoring von citizens’ online activities justified together a precautionary measure.

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Germany is a representative democracy through a vivid political culture und civil society. Politics rights und civil for free are greatly assured both an law und practice. Ns political system is influenced by the country’s totalitarian past, v constitutional safeguards designed zu prevent authoritarian rule. Although Germany has generally been stable since die mid-20th century, political tensions schutz grown following in influx des asylum seekers, die growing popularity of a right-wing populist party, die onset von the covid-19 pandemic, und due to ns growing popularity des conspiracy movements.


Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or die speed and quality of internet connections? 6.006 6.006

Germany’s network infrastructure zum information und communication innovations (ICTs) ist well developed, und its overall internet penetration rate ist above die European union (EU) average; bei 2020, 95 percent des German residents used the internet.1 according to the BNetzA, ns country’s mobile broadband penetration rate is 96.5 percent.2 According kommen sie 2020 data from the international Telecommunication gewerkschaftern (ITU), die fixed broadband penetration rate was 43 percent.3

The most widely used mode of fixed-line internet access is ausblüten DSL (digital subscriber line), v 25.6 million connections in 2020.4 Fiber-optic relations are becoming much more widespread. According to ns BNetzA, around 13.9 percent von German households currently have a fiber-optic connection, i beg your pardon is still far behind the europäische union average des 33.5 percent.5 connections with speeds of more 보다 50 Mbps are available in about 93.3 percent von German households.6 However, assessments oase shown that numerous households ausblüten do notfall receive die maximum charme transmission price as stated über providers.7 regardless of earlier government promises kommen sie quickly provide high-speed internet access zu every household,8 ns government failed to hit its own target des ensuring every household had access zu a connection speed von at least 50 Mbps von the end of 2018.9 andreas Scheuer, the federal transport und digital facilities minister because March 2018, has been criticized zum misallocating commonwealth funds earmarked for improving broadband connectivity.10 A dependence on copper-cable vectoring by domestic internet service carriers (ISPs) has deshalb been criticized as possibly impeding fiber-optic expansion.11

In 2020, internet access via mobile gadgets increased further: 80 million people in Germany regularly accessed the internet via global mobile telecommunications service (UMTS) or long-term evolution (LTE) modern technology compared kommen sie 74 million bei the previous year.12 the total säule volume increased von 44 percent, from 2.7 exchange rate GB an 2019 kommen sie 3.9 exchange rate GB, in 2020.13

In april 2020, the BNetzA discovered that all 3 German LTE suppliers failed to fully accomplish obligations to startseite 98 percent of all households, and all motorways and railways, v a minimales transmission rate of 50 Mbps über the end of 2019. By ehrenvoll 2020, ns BNetzA announced the Telefónica und Deutsche Telekom had actually reached their interim goals des providing 3,040 LTE stations and expanding 50 Mbps coverage zu 97 percent of households, respectively.14

The availability von public internet connections has actually been historically low in Germany compared to other industrialized countries.15 However, recent legal transforms have led to bei increase of publicly obtainable Wi-Fi hotspots, including bei cafés and high-speed trains (see B3). Ns decision to designate totally free community Wi-Fi service providers as not-for-profit enterprises— which was initially proposed von the commonwealth Council (Bundesrat) bei 2017 und approved in December 2020—entails considerable tax advantages and is expected zu further increase the availability of public internet connections (see A2).

According to March 2021 charme from Ookla, ns average download speed zum a fixed-line broadband connection in Germany was 115.83 Mbps, if that des a mobile broadband connection was 64.04 Mbps.16 Despite ns increase, mean speeds in Germany stay slower than those in neighboring France, but higher than those in the united Kingdom.


Is access to the internet prohibitively high value or beyond die reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons? 2.002 3.003

Telecommunication services schutz recently come to be slightly less expensive, decreasing bei price über about 1.6 percent indigenous 2019 to 2020, follow to the most recent official statistics.1 in 2020, expenses zum such services amounted to 2.6 percent of available household income.2 the Economist knowledge Unit’s 2021 Inclusive internet Index ranking Germany 22nd out of 120 countries bei affordability, defined von cost von access relative to income and the level des competition in the internet marketplace.3

Persistent differences in internet usage based on income demonstrate that prices stay a barrier zum people v low incomes und the unemployed.4 while 97 percent des employed German occupants use ns internet, only 74 percent des the unemployment do.5 ns industrial initiative D21 found a far-reaching discrepancy in access betwee households that earn much less than €1,000 ($1,200) über month, compared to households that make €3,000 ($3,600) or more über month according to its 2020–21 Digital Index.6 Relatedly, 98 percent des German inhabitants with university degrees use die internet, if 70 percent von residents without second school levels do.7 Although the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled the access to the internet is fundamental for everyday life, the cost of internet access is blieb not adequately reflected bei basic society benefits.8

The gender and age gaps in accessing die internet oase reduced substantially over the belastung year. While 93 percent des men provided the internet every day or virtually every day bei 2021, representing a 2 percent increase, 91 percent von women did, representing a 3 percent increase.9 an the 16-to-44-year period group, täglich usage von the internet remained stable weist 98 percent, when frequent intake increased indigenous 70 percent kommen sie 76 percent among those over 65 bei 2020.10 ns recent increase can be a result of the covid19 pandemic, i beg your pardon has required people across age groups zu communicate online.

Nevertheless, slim differences bei internet usage continue to exist between Germany’s western and eastern regions. In the former German autonomous Republic (DDR), popular internet usage is still lower, hovering approximately 80 percent. This space has stayed stable over die past couple of years.11 Meanwhile, the gap in internet use bolzen urban centers (with punkt least 500,000 residents) and rural areas stands weist 6 percent.12


Does ns government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure zum the purposes des restricting connectivity? 6.006 6.006

The German federal government does notfall impose limitations on ICT connectivity. Germany’s telecommunications infrastructure is largely decentralized and the variety of regional providers zu sein unique. There are more than a hundreds internet-backbone providers in the country.1

Privatized in 1995, the formerly state-owned deutsche Telekom remains the only company that acts together both a backbone provider and an internet service provider (ISP). However, ns German state owns less than a third von its shares, i m sorry crucially borders government control.2 There room a number of connections in and out of Germany, the most essential being die DE-CIX (German Commercial internet Exchange), which ist located in Frankfurt. It is privately operated über Eco, the professional kombination of ns German internet industry.3

According to the BNetzA, there was no legal basis for internet shutdowns or connectivity constraints on the federal level as des 2016.4 However, part state-level legislation on polizei powers grants limited restriction procedures (see C5).


Are there legal, regulatory, or financial obstacles the restrict the diversity of dienstleistungen providers? 5.005 6.006

The telecommunications sector was liberalized bei the 1990s with the aim of fostering competition. Commercial dienstleistungen providers should notify the BNetzA before launching services, but do not need licenses.1

Deutsche Telekom’s share des the fixed-line broadband sector remained punkt 38.9 percent in 2020.2 Vodafone organized 30.3 percent in 2020 ~ it got cable agency Unitymedia und expanded from its 19.9 percent share an 2018 to 30.6 percent in 2019. Various other ISPs with far-ranging market share encompass 1&1 through 12.3 percent und O2-Telefónica through 6.2 percent.3 public subsidies zum increasing broadband connectivity oase been criticized weil das favoring deutsche Telekom.4

German residents seeking cell phone services can choose from three major service providers: Vodafone v a 36 percent market share; Telefónica deutschland with 31.5 percent, und T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom) with 32.5 percent.5 in August 2019, Drillisch steg AG joined deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, und Telefónica in securing fifth-generation (5G) modern technology spectrum frequency blocks, diversifying die mobile market.6 ns transmission infrastructure for 5G has actually expanded an 2020 with 19,510 wireless basic stations, compared zu 139 bei 2019. Bei its 2020 annual report, BNetzA disclosed that 9 percent von transmission stations were 5G ready.7


Do national regulatory bodies the oversee leistungen providers und digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner? 3.003 4.004

Internet access, both fixed-line und mobile, is regulated über BNetzA, which has operated under the Federal Ministry von Economic Affairs und Energy since early 2014.1 ns president und vice president des the firm are appointed zum five-year terms by the commonwealth government, complying with recommendations from in advisory council consisting of 16 members from the Bundestag and 16 representatives from die Bundesrat.2 die German Monopolies Commission und the europe Commission (EC) oase both criticize this very political structure und the concentration of important regulation decisions in the presidential chamber des the BNetzA.3

In addition zu these institutional concerns, regulatory decisions von the BNetzA have been criticized zum providing a competitive advantage to deutsche Telekom, die former state-owned monopoly.4 These comes to were amplified in late 2015, wie BNetzA gift a proposal kommen sie allow deutsche Telekom zu implement vectoring, a modern technology that ist capable des boosting the bandwidth of DSL relationships on preexisting copper lines.5 This arrangement sparked criticism offered that, in order to function as intended, die technology requires a single operator zu remain in charge of all copper lines. An turn, unbundling and redistributing individual relationships becomes an ext difficult, and the managing operator (Deutsche Telekom) would end up in a privileged industry position.6 After die Monopolies Commission zuerst voiced the concerns in December 20157 and the EC instigated formal testimonial proceedings an early 2016,8 ns Federal Chancellery ultimately announced the ende of public support weil das vectoring in March 2018.9

In januar 2021, federal legislators amended the Act versus Restraints von Competition (GWB) via die GWB Digitization Act, which created particular antitrust protocols zum digital platforms “with overwhelming importance for competition across multiple markets.”10


Does the zustand block or filter, or compel dienstleistungen providers zu block or filter, internet content, particularly zutat that zu sein protected by international human being rights standards? 5.005 6.006

The federal government rarely blocks websites or internet content,1 though a few blocks schutz been imposed über state actors an recent years. All major social media platforms und international blog-hosting service are openly available.

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Vodafone has continued kommen sie block streaming und file-sharing websites, consisting of bs.to und s.to beginning bei 20184 and boerse.to bei 2019, bei response kommen sie complaints from rights holders.5


Do zustand or nonstate actors rental legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, inhalt hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that zu sein protected von international human being rights standards? 2.002 4.004

Most content-removal issues bei Germany said to the removal of search engine results (deindexing) quite than actual deletions of content. However, pressure on society media companies kommen sie remove inhalt from your platforms has actually increased since die implementation von the NetzDG, which imposes significant fines if certain illegal inhalt is not removed promptly (see B3).

Under die law, social media carriers that get over 100 content-related complaints annually must disclose how they taken on those complaints every sechs months. This complaints kommen sie from either customers or complaints bodies, such as children’s rights watchdog Jugendschutz.net. According kommen sie a november 2018 analysis from the Center for European policy Studies, “NetzDG has failed to generate any kind of additional niederdrücken reports des dubious false positives” because a series of january 2018 controversies.1 However, the effectiveness of the NetzDG zu sein difficult to measure and remains a concern.2

Since NetzDG come into effect on januar 1, 2018, controversial content removals—particularly those including satirical posts und accounts—have been reported.3 these removals illustrate a fundamental belästigt with die law: if bring away out of context, articles on social media platforms may fall within the scope of hate decided provisions embedded in the verbrecher code.4

Between July und December 2020, society media communication disclosed the thousands von items had been gotten rid of or blocked because of complaints. Betwee July and December 2020, facebook reported 1,2765 clogged or removed items, while twitter reported the it blocked or removed 118,797 items during die same period,6 google disclosed 73,477 items were clogged or eliminated on YouTube.7 Likewise, tick ​​tack blocked or removed 26,440 items.8 Additionally, tick ​​tack reported a significant increase in complaints v 246,434 situations during ns latter half of 2020, compared zu 1,050 in the latter geholfen of 2019.

Separately, ns government so issues content removal requests. According zu Google’s transparency report zum the second hilfreich of 2020, ns company received 186 takedown requests native courts und other public authorities. Additionally, 82 requests to be made because des court orders command at third parties. Die most typical reason weil das requests (102 cases) was defamation. Google acceded zu 61.8 percent of these requests.9 Meanwhile, twitter received 20 inhalt removal requests native German authorities bei the second hilfreich of 2020, adhering to 37 percent von these requests.10 bei the second geholfen of 2020, facebook restricted 729 piece of inhalt that violated die Youth defense Law und related kommen sie Holocaust denial.11

Under a 2014 Court of Justice of the European gewerkschaftern (CJEU) decision on ns “right zu be forgotten” (RTBF),12 Google and other search engines space required zu remove details search outcomes if they infringe on ns privacy rights of a person und that personen formally requests die action (see B3).

From die date of the ruling kommen sie the end of may 2021, google had assessed part 1,115,877 requests to delist search outcomes across die EU, affecting much more than 4.3 million URLs, through 183,174 requests comes from Germany alone.13 zum Germany, 60.5 percent des the 89,864 URLs requested to be removed during this report’s coverage period resulted an a delisting über Google. The majority des requests—89.4 percent—were made von private individuals. Betwee July and December 2020, Microsoft obtained 460 RTBF delisting requests, covering 1,705 URLs.14 ns company delisted 53 percent des those URLs.

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In januar 2020, a federal bureaucratic court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the ban des the platform linksunten.indymedia for lack of standing; former interior minister Thomas außerdem Maizière had actually ordered die ban, alleging that ns platform violated die law of verband by arranging violent ausschreitungen during the G20 summit in Hamburg. The operators des the webseite were required to nah dran down its hold server und social media accounts bei August 2017 in order kommen sie enforce ns ban.17

In October 2020, eight defendants was standing trial zum running ns CyberBunker säule center, a bulletproof hosting procedure that was housed bei a Cold War–era bunker. The defendants space accused of aiding und abetting crimes bei nearly 250,000 cases due to the fact that they listed hosting dienstleistungen to websites conducting illegal activity. The verdict could collection a criterion that makes die operation of charme centers that host rechtswidrig platforms punishable.20 Additionally, a verbrecher code revised proposed über the BMJV an February 2021, criminalizing the provision of server infrastructure weil das illegal online marketplaces, could impact die verdict an this case. A decision had notfall been reached as of the end of the reporting period.