The German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM e. V.) is a non-profit registered association concerned with the protection of young people in online media.

Together with its member companies and associations, the FSM is doing important work to strengthen youth media protection and keep in check online media content that is illegal or is harmful to young persons or impairs their development. The FSM also operates a hotline that any user can call on to report online content that is criminal or harmful to young persons. The FSM’s other core functions include extensive educational work and promoting media literacy in children and adults.

The FSM is an established contact for many market-determining companies as well as political actors with regard to the protection of minors on the Internet.

A selection of Best Cases – projects realised in cooperation or with the support of the FSM – you can find here.

Mission of the association
at a glance

  • Legal, technical and pedagogical advice for FSM members
  • Representation in (inter)national committees
  • Hotline for online content
  • Promotion of media competence of children, young people and adults

Association documents

“Tailor-made youth protection and digital media education – that’s what we at the FSM stand up for.”

Martin Drechsler, FSM Managing Director

Portrait Martin Drechsler

Voluntary self-regulation

The FSM has been an officially recognised voluntary self-regulation association since 2005 and as such is part of the regulated self-regulation system that operates in Germany.

Recognised self-regulation associations function as a buffer between the state authorities and their member companies. All regular FSM members benefit from this “privilege” effect: in the event of disputes with the federal authorities, first the FSM is engaged as an intermediary, thereby legally ruling out direct sanctions.

In addition the FSM also helps its clients evaluate legal, technical and educational issues, providing them with custom-tailored advice and access to new developments and opportunities in the field of youth protection.

What does regulated self-regulation mean?

The regulated self-regulation system for youth media protection that has been in operation in the field of telemedia since April 2003 provides for a cooperation between the state and the industry, with the state generating the legal framework and the corresponding structures. This makes it possible for recognised self-regulation organisations like the FSM to act independently and exercise a control function in respect of their members. Meanwhile, the state is in a position to use the regulatory framework and the corresponding control options to prevent undesirable developments.

The Internet is especially notable for its international nature and the speed with which content changes, making a system of self-regulation on the part of the providers essential. Self-monitoring makes it possible to react more flexibly and quickly to changes than state control that adopts legal solutions via time-consuming legislative processes.

Media literacy

The promotion of media literacy among children, young people and adults is an essential element of youth media protection.

We support parents, teachers and adolescents through various media education offers to use digital media safely and self-confidently. We want to encourage adolescents to actively participate in shaping the digitalised society and to protect them from the equally diverse potential dangers at the same time.

Jugendliche arbeiten an Laptops gemeinsam an einem langen Tisch

Our extensive educational work aims at encouraging adolescents to actively participate in shaping the digitalised society and to protect them from the equally diverse potential dangers at the same time.

History

Board

President
Gabriele Schmeichel
Director Protection of Minors – Deutsche Telekom AG

Vice-President
Sabine Frank
Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy DACH/CEE – YouTube

Treasurer
Philippe Gröschel
Government Relations Manager Affairs & Strategy – Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG

Dr. Guido Brinkel
Director Corporate Affairs – Microsoft Deutschland GmbH

Daniela Hansjosten
Responsible Editor Standards & Practices/ Youth Protection Officer Online and RTLup – RTL Deutschland GmbH

Klaus Jahn
Head of Standards & Practices Germany/Youth Protection Officer – Discovery Communications Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG

Jessica Lilienthal
Manager Governmental Relations & Regulatory Affairs – ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE

Sandra Singer
Director Protection of Minors – Sky Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG

Coopted Board Members

Daniela Beaujean
Managing Director – VAUNET Verband Privater Medien e.V.

Sven Bornemann
Managing Director – BVDW Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft e.V

Susanne Dehmel
Managing Director Law and Security – Bitkom e.V.

Voluntary commitments

Developing voluntary commitments the FSM is setting high standards in youth protection.

The function of a self-regulation organisation like the FSM is to breathe life into the prescribed legal framework on a practical level. If industry standards are developed in collaboration with these companies, this guarantees that youth protection will be both maintained and implemented in practice. The rules determined in these voluntary commitments are based on legal principles, though they also have the particular advantage that they can be adapted more quickly and flexibly to new trends and technologies.

The FSM has developed codes of conduct for various areas of the online world. Already in 2007 the FSM had drawn up a declaration of commitment in association with the mobile phone companies which included, among others, information to parents on topics relevant to youth protection when concluding a contract, and the optimisation of online information about companies. Also in 2007 the FSM also worked with German chat providers to develop a voluntary code of conduct designed to improve protection for children and adolescents when using chat services in Germany: presence of moderators, reporting and ignore functions, a bad word list and age verification became obligatory. A code of conduct for social network providers was developed in 2009.

2005, Germany’s best-known search engine providers came together under the umbrella of the FSM to found Selbstkontrolle Suchmaschinen (Self-Regulation for Search Engines). This is the world’s first initiative in which key players in the search engine sector have come together on the basis of a voluntary commitment to agree unified standards designed to ensure consumer protection and youth protection while still preserving freedom of expression and avoiding censorship.

By signing the code, these search engines committed themselves to the following measures:

  • public education and information on how search engines work
  • transparent structuring and display of search results (to include identification of advertising)
  • use of technical instruments for protecting children and adolescents from harmful content
  • basic principle of data economy when dealing with user data
  • non-display of Internet addresses listed on the “Index of media harmful to young persons”

Despite its technical limitations, teletext remains as popular as ever. One key reason may be that teletext is very easy to use and quickly accessible. Particularly in the field of advertising via teletext, there are areas that require special attention in terms of youth media protection. FSM member companies active in the teletext sector as content or service providers have pooled their efforts, developing among other things a joint code of conduct which includes:

  • no use of illegal content or content illegal for minors, or content liable to impair development
  • signatories undertake to refrain from advertising any services that they know for a fact to be in breach of current youth media protection law
  • use of the rules for the assessment of text and graphic elements in teletext

Our members

 Regular members
 Associated members
 Sponsoring members

Best Cases: Shaping online youth protection together!

The FSM cooperates in many ways with companies that are committed to online youth protection and digital media education for children, young people and adults. Together we develop and implement new ideas.

Self-regulation according to NetzDG

In the field of youth media protection, the self-regulatory bodies have been established and recognised for many years. The Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) provides for a similar system.

Read more

Projects and cooperations

The FSM is involved in numerous projects and is cooperating in many ways with institutions that engage in online protection and media literacy education of minors.

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