The UK Cleanfeed system — Lessons for the German debate?
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As readers of this journal will of course know, the Zugangserschwerungsgesetz has caused considerable and often very profound debate in Germany about the limits of legal and technological interference with the freedom of access to information, culminating in the temporary refusal of the President to sign the law into action. In the UK by contrast, a core aspect of this law, the technical prevention of access to sites hosting illegal content by ISPs, was introduced through the so called “Cleanfeed system” as early as 1996, with little or no public debate, and bypassing by and large all parliamentary procedure and scrutiny. This article has a threefold aim: First, it gives a brief account of the history and implementation of the UK Cleanfeed system1; second, it explains some of its more unusual aspects by putting them into the historical and constitutional context of policing in the UK, and third, it highlights those experiences made with the system that are of direct relevance for the German discussion.
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