In two last-minute decisions, the German Parliament (Bundestag) will likely adopt the WiFi Act (Entwurf eines Drittes Gesetz zur Änderung des Telemediengesetzes) and the Hate Speech Act (Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Verbesserung der Rechtsdurchsetzung in sozialen Netzwerken) in the last session of the current legislative term. The parliament will vote on both bills on 30 June 2017.
Scope of the WiFi Act
The WiFi Act shall contribute to increase the availability of open WiFis across Germany and is available online in German here. The bill will change the current provisions in the German Telemedia Act. Providers of open WiFis shall not be liable as intermediaries (so-called “Störerhaftung”) anymore if a user of a WiFi violates intellectual property rights by using the WiFi.
Criticism of the WiFi Act
Some serious concerns about the WiFi Act have previously been raised:
- Rightholders of intellectual property rights can request the blocking of websites, if they were used to infringe the rights of the rightholder. Those blocking orders, however, might lead to massive overblocking.
- Providers may provide the WiFi without a registration process or a password. Open WiFis may be used easily by criminals. The possibility of using WiFis anonymously may hinder a sufficient criminal prosecution.
German Parliament to vote on Hate Speech Act
In addition, the German Parliament will vote on the Hate Speech Act, which is available in German here, on 30 June 2017. We have previously reported on the scope of the bill here, and the criticism it has gained here.
Germany will have its general elections on 24 September 2017. The government is trying to push the WiFi Act and the Hate Speech Act across the finish line in the German Parliament’s last session within the current legislative period. However, the government should drop such a swift passage. Both acts would have devastating consequences. After the prominent criticism of the Hate Speech Act, it is highly likely that its constitutionality will be challenged.