Online youth protection is an issue for companies
The regulations set under German youth media protection law are complex, and the potential sanctions for infringements can be severe. In addition, there are requirements of media and competition law as well as further legal regulations on an international level.
The FSM supports companies and providers with respect to their adherence to the legal youth protection regulations. In addition, the FSM also helps its clients evaluate legal, technical and educational issues, providing them with custom-tailored advice.
Learn more about our services for companies.
Rating own content
to provide age-dependent offers
According to the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), every provider must evaluate their own content, classifying it in terms of potential relevance for youth protection purposes.
On the basis of this evaluation, they may offer content that is suitable for children of all ages or suitable for children aged 6 and over without any access restrictions. Likewise, nothing further need be done by providers offering content that is only unsuitable for children (i.e. minors under the age of 14). Such content must, however, be disseminated, or made available on demand, separately from content intended for children.
Providers of content harmful for development (suitable for persons aged 16 and over or 18 and over) must ensure that children and adolescents of the affected age bracket(s) would not normally see or hear such content. in this case, the law provides a number of possibilities.
Learn more about content relevant to youth protection and youth media protection in detail.
Possibilities to offer content for persons aged 16 and over or 18 and over
- Age labels: Youth protection programs recognise age labels and prevent younger users from accessing unsuitable content.
- Technical methods: Possible measures include PIN, ID request or age verification via webcam.
- Watershed: Content is available at a time when children and adolescents of the affected age bracket(s) would not normally see or hear it.
- Age verification systems: Certain online content (e.g. pornography) is only accessible by means such identification and authentication.
Creating age labels with the
FSM age classification system
It can be difficult to determine the appropriate age bracket for an Internet offering.
To make it easier for providers to create a technical age label that is appropriate for their content and complies the required standard, the FSM provides a free age classification system.
The age classification system allows providers to
- assess their website in relation to youth protection law
- use technical means to label their website in such a way that youth protection programs are able to recognise it
- check the validity of an existing technical labelling
can either be entered directly by the provider or determined by answering an online questionnaire. Prior knowledge of youth protection law is not required.
Professional support by
Youth Protection Officers
Commercial providers of generally accessible telemedia that includes content that impairs development or is harmful to young people must appoint a Youth Protection Officer, as must providers of search engines.
This obligation applies not only to content providers but also to host and access providers. Providers with fewer than 50 employees, or a verifiable monthly average of fewer than ten million website visits over the course of a year can engage a voluntary self-regulation association to carry out the duties of a Youth Protection Officer.
Anyone who fails to appoint a Youth Protection Officer despite being under a legal obligation to do so is committing an administrative offence, punishable with a fine of up to 500,000 euros (Article 24 Para. 1 No. 8 JMStV).
The FSM offers the required certification and the necessary training needed to work as an Youth Protection Officer.
The Youth Protection Officer must be someone with special qualifications relating to work in the field of youth protection.
Duties of a Youth Protection Officer
- Point of contact for users of the company’s online content
- Advising parents and guardians, e.g. on youth protection programmes
- Contact person for supervisory authorities and the institutions of voluntary self-regulation
- Advising the preparation, acquisition, planning and designing of content
- Identifying potential dangers
- Safeguarding the protection of minors in all decisions
- Suggestions to limit the available content using age labels or further technical measures