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Tauss leaves social democratic party over censorship row (2009/06/21)

Jörg Tauss left the German Social Democratic Party. Tauss criticised the party for voting in favour of a controversial law for fighting child pornography which will give the German criminal investigation department the power to block domains, reroute requests to a web page displaying a stop sign, and log requests to that page. The law will make Germany much more similar to countries like Australia, China, and Iran, were the government spies on its citizens. Tauss also pointed out that the parliament is blatantly ignoring the biggest petition ever being submitted in Germany (more than 130,000 signatures).

Adding to the controversy, Tauss as well as his political adversary Ursula von der Leyen got into trouble because it is illegal to possess or distribute child pornography. The right to obtain material for investigative purposes requires special legal authorisation. Dealers of child pornography usually require potential customers to break the law by providing illegal material themselves before trusting them.

I’ve tried to translate Tauss’ speech to English:

Mrs president! Dear colleagues! I am voting against this law - in the meantime one must say: I have voted against this law - because it does not have anything to do with its caption. The goal, fighting child pornography, was - contrary to all accussations and the inquiries against me - the prime motivation for me to concern myself with the internet.

I voted against this law not because I would not unconditionally support the goal but because that it is in fact - colleague Mrs Krogmann, I didn't understand your objections at this point - a law which would introduce a structure for surveillance in the free part of Germany for the first time since 1949.

I have voted against this law because it does not prevent child pornography. This is a legend which our minister - I think it's a shame that she is not present - has created. She has said to all request which have been made - for example by the FDP party - that she wasn't presented with any insights. I submit: If one does not have any insights, one should participate in the debate; that would be the least one ought to demand.

(applause by deputy Renate Künast [BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN])

The „Stopp!“-sign which is to appear when one visits an indexed site, enables perpetrators to notice wether they have been discovered and have to change their address. The association of German detectives has justifiably ascertained: The search for perpetrators will be made more difficult by this law. That means that exactly what you actually want, colleague Mrs Noll - a goal we all have -, is going to be prevented.

I am very sad about it, that only a single expert was cited. All other experts such as professor Sieber from the renown Max-Planck-Institute for National and International Criminal Law have pointed out the considerable legal and technical problems. It was him, colleague Mrs Krogmann, who stimulated the dialog, which you are demanding, in the first place. Indeed: One should have held a dialog before arriving at such a law.

I have voted against this law because it suspends the separation of powers. For the first time the executive branch has control itself. The position at the commissary for data protection is - I have spoken about it already - not suitable for solving the problems springing up.

Obviously it is only about creating authorities and positions in spite of the German Federal Criminal Office Law. If I consider how many laws of this coalition have failed in the Federal Constitutional Court, I must say: I would have wished that one does not simply say: „Constitutionally everything is fine“, but that one checks that thoroughly.

I have voted against this law because as I said with it surveillance structures are created. The Wall Street Journal has mentioned - without justification in my opinion; but nevertheless; it shows, that it is being debatted internationally - Germany in one breath with China and Iran. I consider this to be extremeley problematical. But anyone who gets upset about it may look into that law. It is so that the providers are forced to negotiate with the police about technical guidelines. If one knows how the treaties where extorted from the providers - in a manner I have talked about earlier as well -, one can make it clear, what the problem is like: Here proliferation-prone technology is made available - proliferation-prone technology which can be gratefully accepted by all dictatorships of this world. That is irresponsible.

I have voted against this law, because the technology does not work in the closed circles of child pornographers, but it is able to filter democracy and freedom in many parts of the world.

I have voted against this law, because now additional treaties which have come into existence, in a manner as I have expressed before, are supposed to be legitimized with a law subsequently.

I have voted against this law because it was brought about against the advice and the warnings of almost all experts - at least the large majority of experts -. There is the petition of the 134,000 which is likely going to be skipped over coldly like a dog's muzzle this evening. The votes of these 134,000 and many oher young people, who are falling behind in resignation facing this project today, I don't want to - apparently as one of the rare members of parliament of the great coalition - trample on with my feet. I don't resign in front of ministerial incompetence. Please continue to fight an infrastructure for censorship. Nie kämpft es sich schlecht für Freiheit und Recht! That's why I voted against it.

Deleting instead of blocking would be the motto. That what is happening today is a undesirable development. I can only agree with the Green Party, which I want to thank for the application for a vote by name. Here it is not about the internet being a law-free zone; here it is only about making the internet, increasingly and with more and more restrictive measures - they were intensified in the last years, and this is expected to continue, as the remarks from Strobl et al. are showing -, a civil-right-free zone.

I have told my party that I am relatively thankful that I ...

(Vice-president Dr. h. c. Susanne Kastner: Colleague Mr Tauss, the five minutes for your personal statement have expired.)

Yes. Time's up. This was my last memo in this parliament. Surely many are happy about it. Conversely I would, Mrs president, like to say at this point: It was fun sometimes. We have accomplished much for education, science, and research. To those I have worked together with in good spirit I can only say: We were successful in these areas.

But this law I regard as a deplorable hour. Considering this it is by all means easy for me to leave the German Parliament. Nonetheless I wish you all the best personally!

Thank you.

Updates

In the meantime Tauss joined the German Pirate Party.

Pirate Party

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