Games and movies: government wants to tighten youth media protection significantly

Games and movies: government wants to tighten youth media protection significantly

Movies and games will be given the same age rating regardless of whether they are streamed online or purchased over the counter. In addition, institutions of voluntary self-regulation or certified youth protection officers are to take into account additional functions of a game and no longer just the content when awarding age ratings.

This is provided for in the draft amendment to the law for the protection of minors, which the federal cabinet initiated on Wednesday. In particular, contact possibilities that can lead to cyberbullying, pick-up lines and abuse should in future lead to games only being released for a higher age group. This also applies to cost traps such as in-game purchases and loot boxes "lootboxes" and "elements in games that simulate gambling" in games. The federal government thus also takes into account "interaction risks", emphasized Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD).

The cabinet justifies the draft with the increase of cyberbullying as well as with addiction and self-danger on the net. There has also been an increase in children and young people being targeted for sexual contact and sexual violence via the internet. Modern media protection for young people must therefore safeguard personal rights and protect the data of children and young people.

The distribution channels "are growing together and are hardly distinguishable in terms of the same content", it continues. For the current legal assessment of a film or game, for example, it is still important in the existing system whether the content reaches the child or young person from a DVD, via a radio signal or from the Internet. Same content was double checked for age classification, results could even differ from each other.

Structural precaution

Service providers who store or make available third-party information for users with the intention of making a profit must take appropriate "adequate and effective structural precautionary measures" for the protection of minors from harmful media. Above all, operators of social networks such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter or YouTube should have a "reporting and remediation procedure with user guidance suitable for children and young people and a" and a "rating system for user-generated audiovisual content" .

Facebook Co. shall be preset in such a way that profiles of children and adolescents can "cannot be found by search services, nor can they be viewed by people who are not logged in". Location and contact information and communication with others were not allowed to be disclosed, usage data was not allowed to be shared with third parties. Communication must be restricted to a pre-selected circle, the services must be anonymous or "anonymous or under a pseudonym" or under a pseudonym.

In principle, the reform should cover portable media such as DVDs and telemedia such as websites. Broadcasting will remain largely unaffected, as will numerous offerings from the games industry such as "Let’s Plays" or e-sports tournaments are in a gray area.

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