Tue, Mar. 02, 2010

German False Light Jurisdiction Extends to NYT

CK - Washington.   The New York Times has some 14000 German subscribers, registers German readers separately and markets its online publications to German readers. These factors influenced a ground-breaking decision on long-arm jurisdiction by the German Supreme Court for Civil Matters in Karlsruhe of March 2, 2010 in the matter VI ZR 23/09.

Two lower German courts had refused to exercise international jurisdiction over the New York Times in response to a false light complaint that its online service violated the personality rights of the plaintiff, a resident of Germany.

The Supreme Court reversed and found jurisdiction under §32 ZPO of the German federal rules of procedure. The decision, to date explained only by the court's press release #48/2010, is unlikely to be popular in many German circles who deplore the reach of U.S. and British principles of personal--in particular long-arm--jurisdiction.

The court tends to exercize restraint in matters of international jurisdiction and the internet so that fears seem unfounded that Germany might police the internet. In fact, the trend has been to question German jurisdiction where the nexus to Germany was not particularly strong.

Unconstitutional Data Hoarding

.   The unfettered collection of internet connection data by communications service providers for its potential use by government can be unconstitutional, the German Supreme Constitutional Court decided today with respect to a European Union directive. Under directive 2006/24/EU of March 15, 2006, German law requires ISPs to collect - and store for six months - such data regardless of eventual needs by the government.

The supreme court's lengthy decision states that such hoarding out of an abundance of caution for unspecified purposes is unconstitutional. Nice-to-have is not a sufficient reason to limit fundamental constitutional principles. At the same time, the court confirmed the constitutionality of the use of such data for matters of national security and certain categories of crimes.

On March 2, 2010, the court, Bundesverfassungsgericht, published links to the decision and to its summary, in the matters 1 BvR 256/08, 1 BvR 263/08 and 1 BvR 586/08.

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