Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No comment

This morning, I had the plan to write something about the historical figure behind St. Nicolaus (Santa Claus for his friends) who in Germany fills children's shoes with sweets and small presents in the night to December 6th. On my way to IUB, I had heard a radio program about him: He lived in the fourth century somewhere where it's now Turkey, was a bishop and provided three sisters that were so poor that they had to prositute themselves with balls of gold so they could merry. Some 700 years after his death, some knights brought his body to Bari in Italy to save it from the arabs and then parts of his body were distributed all over Europe. The character of this saint also changed a lot over the centuries from being the saint of millers to the saint of drinkers (apearently, the Russian word for getting drunk is derived from his name) to the saint of children.

But this is not what I am going to talk about.

Rather, I would like to point out this news: Heise is a German publishing company of not only in my mind by far the best computer journals here. They also have a news ticker which I think is comparable to slashdot which hosts a discussion forum. Now a court (Landgericht Hamburg) has ordered the Heise publishing house to make sure that there is no illegal content in the forum (and not only delete entries when it is pointed out to them that they are illegal). Otherwise, they could be fined by any lawyer ('Abmahnung').

The court ruled in the case of a posting providing a script for to run a simple denial of service attack against the server of a company that was discussed in the original article. The court decided that Heise must make sure that no such illegal contet is distributed via their website. Heise will challenge this ruling at the next higher level.

But if it prevails, it means that in Germany anybody providing any possibility for users to leave comments is potentially threatened to be fined, no matter if it is a forum, a guest book or the comment section of a blog: You can simply post an annonymous comment of some illegal content and then sue the provider of the website for publishing it. This would be the end of any unmoderated discussion on the German part of the internet. Just another case where a court show complete ignorance of the working of the internet.

So, comment, as long as I still let you!

(note: I had written this yesterday, but due to a problem with I could not post it until today)