Statement on the proposals of the Broadcasting Commission of the federal states for the reform of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV-E)

On 8 November 2023, the Broadcasting Commission of the federal states released a revised draft for the reform of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (6. MÄStV) for public consultation. The draft builds upon the proposals put forth by the Broadcasting Commission on March 15, 2022. In response to the current draft, we express our views and continue to welcome the synchronization of federal and state legal provisions on youth protection, as well as the incorporation of new EU regulations on Digital Services and Platforms. This alignment aims to ensure consistent protection for children and minors in games.

We represent the German games industry. Our members include developers, publishers, and various other stakeholders in the gaming industry, such as esports organizers, educational institutions, and service providers. As co-organizers of gamescom, the world’s largest event for computer and video games, we serve as a central point of contact for media, politics, and society. We address inquiries related to market development, gaming culture, media literacy, and, of course, youth protection. Our mission is to make Germany the best location for the gaming industry. Safeguarding a secure and positive media environment for children, maintaining high standards of youth protection, and promoting media literacy have always been integral to our identity as the gaming industry. Many innovative and exemplary content as well as technical youth protection solutions originate from our industry, with numerous best practices adopted by other sectors. For many years, we, as an industry, have advocated for a modern, convergent, and internationally adaptable legal framework for youth protection that aligns with our contemporary standards.
We expressly support the Broadcasting Commission’s goal to optimize existing youth protection systems and interconnect them to maximize their effectiveness. However, there is considerable room for improvement in many regulatory proposals, particularly to further strengthen self-regulatory bodies. We maintain that the approach taken with operating systems remains outdated and, for substantive, technical, and legal reasons, is unsuitable for Seite 3/14 achieving the stated objectives. Moreover, it lacks international compatibility and may even impede innovation.

We are irritated that the Broadcasting Commission is only now presenting proposals to align the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) with Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 (“DSA”), which will be applicable from February 17, 2024, despite the awareness of European standards and resulting action requirements for over two years. This creates significant legal uncertainty for all telemedia providers who will be directly regulated by the DSA in the future. Given the protracted and seemingly outdated “legislative process” for a treaty, with ratification by all state parliaments, it is expected that a new treaty will not come into force until after the upcoming state elections in the fall of 2023. Following the mandatory notification to the EU Commission and the subsequent one-year transitional phase, it is likely that the new treaty will not be in effect until 2026. This implies more than two years of legal uncertainty for “telemedia” providers in Germany. Consequently, game companies will need to independently devise solutions in the coming months and, given the legal uncertainty in Germany, likely shift their focus to European solutions. As a result, we observe a gradual erosion of the legitimacy of the federal states as legislators for youth protection laws and the diminishing significance of state supervision in the field of games.

Regarding the specific proposals, we provide the following document.

Dr. Christian-Henner Hentsch
+49 30 240 87 79 22
Maren Raabe
+49 30 240 87 79 15