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Police raid paper HQ for forum user's details

The Local · 29 Jan 2013, 09:48

Published: 29 Jan 2013 09:48 GMT+01:00

The anonymous reader of the Augsburger Allgemeinen newspaper left in vicious comments online directed at Volker Ullrich, an Augsburg conservative politician who had a hand in planned changes to handling street prostitution last autumn.

Deeming the comments libelous, Ullrich demanded the contact details of the user so he could press charges.

As comments on articles can be left anonymously, which the user had done, the politician couldn't sue his online opponent. But the paper said giving the details away was against readers' data protection rights.

So on Monday afternoon police arrived at the Augsburger Allgemeinen with a search warrant from court and demanded the editorial team hand over the files.

Outrage on Twitter and Facebook soon followed, then later that night Ullrich said he would not be pressing charges after all – as long as the anonymous commenter apologized to him.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:39 January 29, 2013 by lucksi
Seriously? A raid for libel? What do the fines for libel cost? 300 to 500 Euro? And a judge signed off on the search warrant?

Yeah, they would totally do the same for the average Joe, right?
10:46 January 29, 2013 by pepsionice
Before everyone jumps in to defend journalism....consider the fact that no matter who you are....if you go after and insult people in a harsh manner....you can be dragged into court. Pretending to be safe as "anonymous" and use some newspaper forum for such behavior....just doesn't work. In the next day or two....some guy is going to find the cops at his door and taking downtown to be interviewed. I will feel sorry for him....but the truth is....you can run around doing harsh insults on public people and think you are completely safe.
11:47 January 29, 2013 by simski
This is absolutely ridiculous. The judge should probably have consulted someone on the technical details. 1) It is very unlikely that the user can be found, even if they have his user records. 2) If the police seized the usage data, they probably took the whole database, or at least the whole table of user information instead of executing a neat MySQL-statement to just get the data the need. That would mean exposing the data of hundreds of innocent users to scrutiny. It would be like raiding a whole suburb to find a stolen teapot.

This is why we need judges and politicians who know what the f--k they are doing.
12:35 January 29, 2013 by michael4096
The webserver logs almost certainly have the IP address of the poster, so unless he was using a foreign proxy he can be traced easily in Germany.
12:36 January 29, 2013 by Olentangy
There was (or perhaps still is) an international school in Heiligenhaus (near Essen) where I live. Someone, a disgruntled former teacher I think, set up a website that has a lot of harsh things to say about the school. Anyway, the site is hosted in the United States specifically to be out of reach of German law. My point is, what will happen if they see the guy's IP address is in the States or even, I don't know, Austria? Or what if the guy making the rude comments was using a VPN? Big waste of time if you ask me. Politicians are in the public eye; they had better have a thick skin.
13:07 January 29, 2013 by raandy
Olentangy they have freedom of speech in the US ,if this persons IP address shows as US , they are going to run into a wall a big wall.

pepsionice .. I would agree with you in part, but if the person made threats or made statements that are proven slanders and untrue then ok, but if the person says he thinks U is a jerk off or A hole that is his opinion and he is entitled to it with out fear of prosecution in a criminal setting, That said ,I understand the difference here as apposed to the US when we say "Freedom of Speech"
20:50 January 29, 2013 by yourkeau
God bless CSU and Herr Volker Ullrich, thank you very much for allowing me to live in Bavaria and write comments on this forum. God bless Bavarian polizei for protecting us from all these serious crimes. Good job!
00:34 January 30, 2013 by chicagolive
Anybody notice how it is getting hard for the average person to speak out against politicians here lately.
08:35 January 30, 2013 by Englishted
Ah just like the good old days of 80 years ago .

First they came for ........

Hope you know the rest.
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