Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

(german version)

Rabe Logo

Hyperlinking court case threatens freedom of speech in Germany

Are hyperlinks legal in Germany? FITUG, a member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC), sees freedom of online speech threatened in a case that a court in Stuttgart, Germany, will hear on Thursday.

"Our Constitutional Court has called freedom of expression 'one of the noblest of human rights.'," said Thomas Roessler, a spokesman for FITUG. "The Internet and the World Wide Web provide unprecedented opportunities for realizing this right. They enrich society. Considering every hyperlink as an endorsement of the content linked to means missing the web's opportunities for controversial debate. Bringing critical speech into court just because it links to politically extreme opinions means stifling political discourse and chilling free speech."

"To prohibit hyperlinks even in the context of protected political speech," Roessler said, "is an attack on freedom of speech itself."

A court in Stuttgart will hear Alvar Freude's case on Thursday. Freude, an online activist, has been fighting and documenting controversial Internet blocking attempts by a German district government for years. In the context of an online documentation, he had linked to the hate speech that the district government had attempted to block. He is accused to have contributed to the further distribution of the hate-speech material.


FITUG creates connections to the virtual world of new media and data networks. From our statues: "The association's purpose is the fostering of the integration of new media with society, public education about technologies, risks, and dangers of these media, and the fostering of human rights and consumer interests with respect to computer networks." FITUG is a member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC).


Thomas Roessler

Förderverein Informationstechnologie und Gesellschaft (FITUG) im Oktober 2004