New German government reaches key internet security agreements | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.10.2009
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Germany

New German government reaches key internet security agreements

As coalition talks in Berlin make headway, the junior coalition partner FDP wrests some key concessions from Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Angela Merkel (CDU), left, and Guido Westerwelle (FDP)

The FDP is scoring points in coalition talks

Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Liberals (FDP) reached key agreements on internet security Thursday evening. The controversial block on child porn websites will be lifted and new rules will affect police powers.

There are new breakthroughs in the ongoing coalition negotiations in the new German government ahead of decisive talks scheduled this weekend. Negotiators for both parties announced agreements in the areas of internal security that suggested that the FDP's libertarian agenda is forcing concessions from the conservative CDU.

On the question of website blocks, an initiative introduced by CDU family minister Ursula van der Leyen earlier this year to combat child pornography, the two parties agreed to try to delete rather than block offending websites. In a year's time, the success of the deletion policy will be assessed.

Police powers curbed

Important agreements are designed to curtail police powers: CDU Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble announced that the use of stored private data in police investigations would be limited to extremely dangerous situations.

A computer with a prohibition sign on the screen

Child porn sites are to be deleted rather than blocked

The police will also have to apply to the Federal Public Prosecutor to conduct secret online searches of computers, rather than local district courts. The power to conduct online searches will not be extended to other security authorities like the secret service.

The Free Liberals could also record some success in the question of the protection of professional secrets. Under the new government agenda, all lawyers, not only criminal defense lawyers, will be allowed to withhold sensitive information from the police on professional grounds. An official enquiry will be initiated to decide whether a similar rule can cover journalists.

Prison sentences extended

In addition, the two parties agreed that the maximum prison sentence for murder in the case of young criminals would be extended from 10 to 15 years. A so-called "warning-shot-detention" of up to four weeks will also be introduced for young criminals placed on probation.

FDP domestic policy spokesman Max Stadler declared that he had expected the CDU bow to the FDP's demands on certain issues. "After all, we were elected to bring in changes and improvements," he told reporters.

bk/dpa/AFP

Editor: Neil King

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