German minister attacks 3-strike net laws

Calls them unacceptable restriction of personal freedom

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's justice minister has come out strongly against so-called three-strike laws to block Internet access for illegal file sharing.

In a newspaper editorial this week justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger described such laws -- which have been introduced in France and the U.K.-- as an unacceptable restriction of personal freedom and the wrong way to combat Internet piracy.

In coming down on the side of individual rights, the German minister is toeing the liberal, free-market line of her party, the FDP. But her article, in which also calls for more Internet freedom across Europe, goes against the tide of the governments of many European countries, which see blocking Internet access as a reasonable way to prevent copyright theft.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she is also against blocking individual file-sharing sites, even if they contain illegal child pornography.

"(These measures) are wrong, because they don't really solve the problem and because they bring with them enormous collateral damage," she writes. "Many people would understandably be concerned about the freedom of the Internet were we to set up a state apparatus to block Internet content."

So far, Germany has not made any moves to follow its European neighbors in proposing three-strike legislation of its own.