Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition leadership on Tuesday made the surprise about-face on earlier plans to block such sites, following the success of a year-long test programme for removal.
“According to current numbers with the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), after two weeks 93 percent of child pornography content was erased, and after four weeks it was 99 percent,” said Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats.
The justice minister has long argued that blocking sites alone is ineffective and leads to a “breach of trust” with internet users, a sentiment shared by internet activists and the Pirate Party.
In November 2010, former President Horst Köhler refused to sign the controversial law to block the child pornography sites following criticism that it would block access to other innocent sites, and therefore amounted to censorship that could breach Germany’s constitution.
The law was written under the previous “grand coalition” government between Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and the centre-left Social Democrats, and heavily advocated by then Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Merkel’s party and their new partners in government, the FDP – who opposed the measure – agreed during coalition negotiations not to put the law into practice.
But because it had already been passed by both houses of the German parliament, it could not simply be dropped, and was stalled until both sides agreed to test removing the sites.
It will now be repealed.