Fri, May. 23, 2008

Internet Contact Data Explained

CK - Washington.   A 2007 decision recently added to the MIR index reminds the author of crazy German laws and an unimaginative decision. The spam-friendly statute on the identification of internet users, Telemediengesetz, also requires web writers to state contact information. Is a contact form sufficient, or is the statement of an email address necessary?

It's the statement, the Essen district court warned an Internetter on September 19, 2007 in the matter 44 O 79/07. The statute wants a statement, not merely a means to contact the web publisher, it writes. That rules out a contact form on a web site or innovative means other than an email address.

Technically, the decision makes no sense. A contact form can use the mail SMTP protocol which queues an email notice to the recipient's POP or IMAP or web email box, just like an email client would. A statement such as mail2://mailform@r3cht.us is no better than a statement like http://recht.us/mailform. The latter is safer and minimizes spam traffic. But that's not what the Essen court's fourth commercial division held In the Name of the People.

It found against the publisher on the basis of anti-competitive conduct evidenced by is failure to state an email address. The misguided ruling is a sad example of how a statute and its uninformed application can make Germany less competitive--in this case by hampering advances in communications. A courageous court could have voided the invasive statutory identification and contact requirements as vague and taken the country somewhere.


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