Sun, Jul. 14, 2013

Extraterritorial Reach of German Law

CK - Washington.   Germany implements a European Union directive on consumer protection by requiring internet vendors to list on websites detailed identifying information, including corporate IDs, tax IDs and managerial appointments. The identification is commonly called an Impressum and frequently translated into English as Imprint. The implementing statute exempts vendors from outside of the E.U.

A June 18, 2013 decision from the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals in the matter I-20 U 145/12 extends the reach of the statute, however, to such vendors which trade within the E.U. and, in a more novel approach, renders the third-party internet platform on which the vendor trades to sanctions for failing to provide technical means for the creation of an Impressum.

Some German observers believe that the decision will force platforms such as a Facebook, Twitter and Google to offer templates that enable vendors to comply with the E.U. and German rules. Courts have been expanding the reach of the obligations arising from the TMG statute since its enactment. While violating constitutional free speech protections, the statute now appears to cover not just vendors of goods and services but, in the eyes of most lower courts, almost any periodically repeating internet actors, including bloggers.

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