According to lawyer Julia Maris, the law will have an impact on the age restrictions. “Online games or other applications that use loot boxes or similar in-game offers would probably be classified with an age rating of 18 and over,” Maris told SPIEGEL.
Among other things, children should be protected from being ripped off with age-appropriate default settings, but also with warning pictograms before buying. “We want clear symbols that indicate risks such as violence or cost traps,” said SPD Family Minister Franziska Giffey.
The new law is to be adapted to the digital age and no longer differentiates between, for example, whether videos and games are started on a console, mobile phone or PC. It also makes no difference whether the data is loaded from a DVD or from the Internet. In the previous version, there was talk of video cassettes, among other things.
Protection against harmful online content
The law has yet to be approved by the Federal Council and should come into force in the spring. In addition to protection against cost traps, it provides that children and young people must be protected from harassment on online platforms. Social networks must prevent children and young people from being found, written to and harassed by strangers. So-called cybergrooming is to be combated with it. Adults often stalk minors under a false identity in chats, often with the aim of meeting them in real life and of abusing them.
Industry association criticizes unclear regulations
Bitkom managing director Susanne Dehmel criticizes that it could now be even clearer to find out which law applies and which authority is responsible. “The new regulations are based on unclear definitions and legal terms and lead to overlapping, if not contradicting, obligations and supervisory structures with other laws,” says Dehmel.
The problem: State media authorities are actually responsible for monitoring youth protection on the Internet. But to the displeasure of the state authorities (PDF), the federal inspection agency for media harmful to minors is to be upgraded to the federal agency for child and youth media protection. The authority should, among other things, impose fines for violations of the law.
The critics also lack a clear demarcation from existing regulations such as the State Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the NetzDG’s right of appeal and the Telemedia Act.
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