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Court rules internet access a basic right
Photo: DPA

Court rules internet access a basic right

Published: 25 Jan 2013 11:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Jan 2013 11:10 GMT+01:00

A top German court ruled this week that people can sue their internet providers for damages if their connection fails. Access to the internet had become a basic right, the country's justice minister said.

Using the internet and having an email address were a modern necessity, the federal court judges decided on Thursday. Should the provider be at fault when an internet connection fails, its customers would now be able to claim damages.

While amounts have not been finalized, the court said that it would likely not be large sums and that if a customer had a smartphone with internet access, the payout would be even less.

The court compared the situation to when a car owner claims damages after an accident. They may usually claim around 40 percent of the vehicle's worth from the party at fault. This would be around the same for internet users but of a monthly tariff payment.

Behind the ruling is a case put forward by a man who was cut off from the internet when his provider was purchased by another firm. He could not access his internet for two months due to an administrative error.

He took 1&1, the telecom firm which bought out his original provider, to court and demanded €50 a day in damages for each day he could not get online, use his landline or his fax machine.

The court decided that he was within his right to claim damages for the internet. But his mobile served as a replacement for his landline and fax was not a daily necessity.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that the ruling showed “how fundamental the internet has become for an informed life.” And that the decision was a recognition of the fact that using the internet was a basic right in Germany.

DAPD/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:38 January 25, 2013 by raandy
I like this ruling. I have had trouble with my connection for years when the weather is damp I have no service.It cost you money to call your provider ,who says the line belongs to DT and I will put in a notice to them. Three or four months later a person from DT comes. He asks to see the connection, walks around and tells you that it is not DT, round and round we go.The end result is you still have an in and out connection.It takes 3 months to cancel , but that does not mean you will have internet because your previous provider must free the line, at least that is what I was told, went 2 months after cancellation was completed with no provider had to use a surf stick from O2.

Hopefully this will give the user a little more clout, but here in Germany, Iam not so sure,service is an oxymoron here.
11:58 January 25, 2013 by michael4096
It will be interesting to see if this ruling affects the ridiculous regulations giving DT the power of life and death over copper to the home but no compulsion to provide a service...
12:36 January 25, 2013 by beckyhead
Telekom truly is the worst, and the monopoly they have over the infrstructure is wrong in so many ways. What's worse is that your neighbour can have a superfast connection, while you are stuck with a 2Mb conection (if you are lucky) with no chance DT will ever upgrade...and its a poor connection at that.

Recenly, KD extended their services out here for fast internet and HD cable capability. However, we are stuck in a contract that provides horrible service. DT has no regard for its customers.
12:56 January 25, 2013 by ichbines
I lost my internet and telephone for 4 straight days recently and it was an extremely pleasant experience. I think we should have to pay when it happens.
13:53 January 25, 2013 by The-ex-pat
I went on a course for 6 weeks last November/December. I came home at weekends. When I returned to the course on a Sunday night, I discovered that I had left my phone at home. At first this was a major problem until I realised that it was not a major problem, just an inconvenience. Come the second day without, it was quite liberating....

However, this is not about rights, it is about contractual agreement. As usual some judge is barking up the wrong tree when applying "his" interpretation of the law. A basic right, he has opened the flood gates....H IV, prisoners and well anyone without........
14:22 January 25, 2013 by Englishted
"A top German court ruled this week"

Anyone else notice what is wrong with the above?

Then I will tell it says a top German court ,not the top German court so , next week another top German court can over rule and give the providers the whip hand again .

It is the same as a article in the local :Parents not liable if kids download illegally

Published: 16 Nov 12 07:47

Yet other courts are ignoring the ruling and are still fining parents .

I will as again could the "local" look into this and provide some clarity .
16:12 January 25, 2013 by catjones
Time to put an internet rider on the long list of riders for my legal insurance plan, right below I-can't-find-my-keys rider or the what-if-I-get-a-whimsical-judge rider.
17:09 January 25, 2013 by Reader75
I had absolutely no problems with internet service provided by Deutsche Telekom when I lived in Heidelberg a few years ago. Access was reasonably fast and I do not recall any downtime.

That said, now that internet service has been a declared right, can we expect free WiFi from hotels???
21:12 January 25, 2013 by jg.
ichbines "I lost my internet and telephone for 4 straight days recently and it was an extremely pleasant experience. I think we should have to pay when it happens."

You pay me and I'll come around and take your broadband router away for however many days you would like. Would that give you the same experience?
09:16 January 26, 2013 by Enough
We will all see if this helps their crappy customer service or not.
16:46 January 28, 2013 by raandy
I would like to add, that I recently switched to Kabel Deutschland , it is 10x faster than DSL, no buffering and when the whole family is online it does not change.

The service at first seems ok,They came in but a small box on my cabel connection and a wifi router, works super.

ichbines... When I lost my service for a week , It was not a pleasant experience.
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