February 16, 2007

COMPUTERS: In debate about violent PC games, Germany plans to ramp up youth protection

In debate about violent PC games, Germany plans to ramp up youth protection

In the current debate concerning violent computer games, the state of Bavaria is not alone in proposing new legislation to make the German Penal Code more strict and add a new section 131a to the Code. Now, Germany's Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her colleague Armin Laschet (both from the CDU) from North Rhine / Westphalia have announced that the federal government and state governments will be providing better protection to children and adolescents from violent computer games. But unlike the proposal from Bavaria to implement a new clause in the German Penal Code, they plan to extend the criteria in the Youth Protection Act to cover a wider range of violent scenes in computer games.

The debate about violent computer games flared up again after the massacre at a school in the German town of Emsdetten, reaching even the highest level of politics. While Germany's Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) believes that the country's regulatory power granted by the Youth Protection Act, the Agreement to Protect Minors in the Media (Jugendmedienstaatsvertrag), and the industry's good-faith self-monitoring is sufficient, Bavaria's Home Secretary G√ľnther Beckstein (CSU) wants to have the German parliament pass a law banning such games outright. At the Council of European Home Secretaries and Ministers of Justice, Beckstein also called for a united European front. The EU is also talking about harmonizing penalties and coming up with a joint "blacklist."

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
Youth Media Consulting GbR
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
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