until now we always thought that this already existed in Germany. But there we were probably subject to a mistake. For us in any case it seems as a legal basis for a current case should be created. Who does not like the current law situation, which writes the laws evenly again. The banana republic is developing by itself.
Whoever operates Internet platforms on which illegal products are traded is to be punished with five years in prison. This is provided for in a draft law of the Ministry of Justice. There is not to be an explicit Darknet paragraph. Nevertheless, the draft goes very far, further than previously expected.
Wall Street Market as a target ?
If a marketplace becomes too big, the police will bust it. The BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) celebrates success time and again in the identification and prosecution of criminals in digital space. Europol cheers “No crime in darknet goes unpunished”. In Frankfurt the three suspected operators of the Darknet market “Wall Street Market” are on trial.
With the draft, Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht wants to introduce a new criminal offence: the “operation of criminal trading platforms on the Internet”. A new § 127 in the penal code is to read
Whoever operates a trading platform on the Internet, the purpose of which is to enable or promote the commission of illegal acts […], will be punished with imprisonment for up to five years or a fine […].
Forums also affected
Such a trading platform can take several forms, for example, forums are meant in addition to online marketplaces. Whether a platform trades commercially or not is irrelevant. Trade includes “purchase transactions, barter transactions or gifts”.
This would also include “Deutschland im the DeepWeb” (DiDW a German Board which allows the trade of illicit goods). On the board there is brisk trading with everything that the black market offers.
The Federal Government targets offences “which involve or are closely related to the trade or handling of prohibited goods or prohibited forms of trading in goods not prohibited per se”. This includes all crimes, but also minor offences such as various drug and counterfeiting offences.
In addition there is a series of computer crimes: Spying out and interception of data, data theft, data alteration, computer sabotage and computer fraud. This is primarily intended to hit “contract crimes”, which are referred to as “crime-as-a-service”.
In addition, it affects platforms for infringements under trademark law (such as criminal use of geographical indications) or design law (e.g. criminal infringement of a Community design).
The law is based on million-dollar deals in weapons and drugs on commercial sales platforms; in practice, it also criminalizes the operation of non-commercial forums where things with false geographical indications are given away.
In March 2019, the Federal Council had passed its own bill against illegal trading platforms. However, this bill explicitly targeted markets in the so-called “darknet”. The draft contained many problematic definitions, such as “Internet-based services”, which also threatened desirable services such as anonymization networks.
The Ministry of Justice rejected this proposal, but not for reasons of content. It was merely a question of who would ultimately be responsible.
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