In Germany, people can request compensation when they’ve been deprived of things deemed essential to life. And now, thanks to a court ruling, the internet is part of that class.
A Federal court in Karlsruhe has made a pretty important decision with implications for the future of internet law: the internet is an “essential” part of life. German press is calling it a “landmark ruling.”
The case that produced the ruling involves a man whose DSL service was interrupted for a period of two months in 2008-2009. He had already been compensated for having to use his mobile phone, instead of the landline/fax services provided by his DSL connection. But that wasn’t enough in his mind. He also wanted to be compensated for the inability to access the internet.
A court agreed that he should be compensated, saying:
“The Internet plays a very important role today and affects the private life of an individual in very decisive ways. Therefore loss of use of the Internet is comparable to the loss of use of a car.”
They went on to say that the internet is a “civil right” and that it is fundamental to life.
Speaking of the internet as a human right, a recent ruling in a U.S. court, although stemming from a much different type of case, also used language like this when talking about internet access. An appeals court has overturned an Indiana law barring registered sex offenders from accessing the internet, saying that it’s “unconstitutionally overbroad.” The ACLU had argued that communicating on the internet was too integral to functioning in a modern society to be restricted, as it was a First Amendment issue. The appeals court agreed.