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A person playing a first-person shooter game
Violent video games may be forbidden for young people under a proposed lawImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Virtual Violence

DW staff (kjb)
October 12, 2007

A government proposal may tighten laws preventing the sale of violent movies and video games to minors. Berlin may also use children as undercover agent to see what retailers are breaking the law.


Video games and films with "particularly realistic, brutal or explicitly violent content and killings" will be forbidden for children and youths, the German Ministry for Family Affairs said Thursday, Oct. 11.

The media should be clearly labeled to prevent stores from selling the violent material to minors, according to the ministry.

Family Affairs Minister Ursula von der Leyen's bill calls for fines of up to 50,000 euros ($70,865) for those convicted of selling violent material minors once and up to a year in prison for repeat offenders.

Von der Leyen wanted to make "vehemently clear" to retailers what material is appropriate for sale to children, according to a report in the daily Die Welt.

Two teenagers drinking beer
Could these two become undercover police agents?Image: dpa - Bildarchiv

The size and visibility of labels indicating age requirements for purchasing particular media is to be regulated by law, so they aren't overseen by parents or sales personnel, according to a report by the daily Passauer Neue Presse.

Two independent organizations in Germany review films and other media and give them one of the following appropriateness labels: all ages, over six years, over 12, over 16, or adults only.

Undercover kids

Another part of the proposed legislation would call for minors to help authorities catch sales people who sell the violent media -- as well as alcohol and cigarettes -- to underage children, according to a report in Friday's Financial Times Deutschland.

A spokesperson for the Family Affairs Ministry later confirmed the report and added that state officials have long been able to employ minors as undercover agents.

The proposed bill, which is expected to be discussed by the cabinet Wednesday.

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