National inspecting authority for youth harming media

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National inspecting authority for youth harming media

State level Federation
Supervisory authority Federal Ministry of Family Affairs
founding May 19, 1954
Headquarters Bonn , North Rhine-Westphalia
Authority management vacant
Budget volume 2.42 million EUR (2019)
Web presence

The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons ( BPjM ) until 2003 federal inspection station for youth-endangering writings ( BPjS ), is a German federal authority based in Bonn , which after its foundation the Interior Ministry was subordinated, today it is the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs subordinate. It is responsible for examining and including media in the list of media harmful to minors (“indexing”). It serves the media protection of minors .

Legal basis

The basic right to freedom of expression ( Article 5, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law ) is not guaranteed without restrictions according to the wording of the Basic Law. In addition to the “ general laws ” and the “right to personal honor”, ​​it is also “the provisions for the protection of young people” that restrict freedom of expression. The freedom of art ( Article 5, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law) is not expressly made subject to a reservation ; However, it can be restricted by conflicting constitutional law , which in the end amounts to the same thing: It must also give way if other important legal interests - such as the protection of minors - are threatened. What is individually considered to be harmful to children and young people is either subject to verifiable scientific knowledge or, in the absence of these, the state's prerogative of assessment . The Youth Protection Act (JuSchG), which came into force in April 2003, is one of the provisions for the protection of young people . It replaced the law on the dissemination of writings harmful to minors as the legal basis .

The prohibition of censorship in Article 5, Paragraph 1, Clause 3 of the Basic Law only refers to prior censorship. In this sense, indexing is only possible after publication (post-censorship).

The limits of freedom of expression and artistic freedom are sometimes handled differently in other countries: In the USA , depictions of violence are usually assessed less critically, whereas much stricter standards are applied to pornography than in Germany.


Shortly after the press licensing was lifted by the Allies, the CDU / CSU applied to the German Bundestag for a law based on the model of the 1926 Law to Protect Young People from Trash and Dirty Writings. As early as the Weimar Republic , the supervisory authority established on the basis of this law for Trash and dirty writings have been given an appropriate institution. The reason was given "in view of the development of certain excesses of the magazine market, which threatens German youth and public safety."

The Federal Testing Office for Writings Harmful to Young People was formed on May 19, 1954 after the law on the dissemination of writings harmful to minors had been passed on June 9, 1953 .

The first meeting to decide on indexing requests took place on July 9, 1954. The first two works indexed by the Federal Inspectorate were The Little Sheriff and Jezab, the Seafarer . While Jezab, the seafarer , was indexed by an injunction, this was done with the Little Sheriff in due process. The stumbling block was an attempted murder of his beloved by a criminal over several pages, since, according to the test center, “the continued reading of such representations must have a brutal effect on children and young people”.

In 1978 the group of institutions entitled to apply was significantly expanded, since then, in addition to the highest youth authorities in the federal states, the youth welfare offices of the municipalities have also been eligible to apply. This multiplied the number of indexing requests.

In June 2002, after the rampage in Erfurt, the new youth protection law was passed, which replaced the law on the dissemination of publications harmful to minors and the law on the protection of young people in public and came into force on April 1, 2003.

The amendment to the law clarified the competencies of the federal inspection agency. The new media such as websites are also subject to your testing competence . For this reason, it was renamed the Federal Testing Office for Media Harmful to Young People. As in previous years, the inspection order is created through an application from a youth protection authority or at the suggestion of a recognized agency for free youth welfare.

In May 2016, Federal Family Minister Schwesig announced that the federal inspection agency for media harmful to minors would be converted into a federal agency for child and youth media protection.

There is currently no head of authority in BPjM The previous heads of authorities in BPjM were:


The Federal Testing Office has the following tasks:

  • at the request of youth ministers and youth agencies, to subject media harmful to minors to criminal bans so that they are only accessible to adults and not to children.
  • Promotion of value-based media education.
  • Sensitization of the public to problems of youth media protection.

According to Section 18 (1) JuSchG , youth-endangering means that “the development of children or young people or their upbringing to become self-reliant and socially competent people” is at risk. Media are cited as examples that are “immoral, have a brutal effect or incite violence, crime or racial hatred”.

According to Section 15 (2) JuSchG, certain media content is subject to restricted distribution by virtue of the law because of its obvious risk to young people, without the need to be included in the list of publications that are harmful to young people. These include, for example

  • the content prohibited by the StGB , such as sedition , instructions on criminal offenses, glorification and neglect of violence, incitement to racial hatred, pornography,
  • Media that glorify the war or
  • Depicting children or young people in an unnatural, gendered posture.

However, since it is not always the same for a medium that it has a content described in accordance with Section 15 (2) JuSchG, the Federal Inspectorate can index such media in order to clarify the situation. As a result, the Federal Inspectorate has also entered media that deny the Holocaust , which fulfill the criminal offense of sedition or the denigration of the memory of the deceased , but for which the public prosecutor's offices could not hold the perpetrator responsible, in the list of publications harmful to minors.

At the request of a youth welfare office or at the suggestion of a recognized agency of the free youth welfare service , the BPjM checks whether a text, a film, a computer game or another medium contains content that is harmful to minors. In the case of applications , a check is always carried out; in the case of suggestions , it is at the discretion of the inspection body whether it takes action. Other than the statutory government agencies are not allowed to submit applications (in practice these are mainly youth welfare offices ).

In addition, it should be said that you can also act as a private person at any time if, for example, you have websites with very questionable content in front of you. In this case, you can contact your respective youth welfare office directly so that they can examine the case.


The authors, manufacturers or owners of rights of use for the medium concerned will be informed of the indexing application or the suggestion for indexing. They will be given the opportunity to comment. If a media object has been given an age rating by the voluntary self-regulation of the film industry or the entertainment software self-regulation , this represents a procedural obstacle, the federal inspection body is then not allowed to carry out an indexing procedure. However, media with such a label that were indexed prior to April 1, 2003 will remain on the index.

Decision-making bodies

The decision as to whether a medium is harmful to minors is made by the 12-person committee or the 3-person committee. In these committees youth protection institutions, the arts and the economy are represented by voluntary "assessors". The committees are not bound by instructions.

The 12-person committee consists of the chairperson (or the deputy chairperson) and assessors from the groups

  • art
  • literature
  • Book trade and publishers
  • Image carriers and telemedia providers
  • Carrier of free youth welfare
  • Public youth welfare agency
  • Faculty
  • Churches, the Jewish religious communities and other religious communities that are corporations under public law
  • as well as in each meeting 3 representatives from the state ministries responsible for the protection of minors, who change in rotation.

The negotiation, in which representatives of the medium concerned can participate, is oral and not public. The chairman can, however, allow third parties to be present. Minutes are not published, however, the written reasons for the decision of the Federal Inspectorate can also be requested by those not involved in the procedure. The names of the assessors are made known to those involved in the proceedings and are also listed in the minutes and in the indexing decision. If persons not involved in the proceedings request the indexing decision, all personal data (of the assessors as well as the companies and lawyers involved) will be removed.

The indexing requires a majority of 2/3 of the votes. If this majority is not achieved, the indexing application is rejected. In cases in which the Federal Inspectorate only meets with the minimum number of persons permitted by law (9 people), a qualified majority of 7 people must vote in favor of the indexing, otherwise it will not take place.

The committee of three is only responsible in cases in which the youth risk is obvious. At least one member of this committee must belong to either the “Art” or “Literature” or “Book trade and publishers” or “Providers of image carriers and telemedia” areas. An indexing application is only accepted or rejected if it is unanimous. If there is no unanimity, a decision is made in full.

The party involved in the proceedings can bring an action against the indexing decision at the administrative court.

List of media harmful to minors ("Index")

The list of media harmful to minors (colloquially: index ) is only published for so-called carrier media (i.e. those whose content is not stored virtually, but objectively). In the case of so-called telemedia, there is no publication in order to avoid an advertising effect. According to § 15 Abs. 4 JuSchG, third persons are prohibited from publishing the list for the purpose of commercial advertising under threat of punishment. This means that a public discussion (see freedom of expression ) with the contents of the list is very possible. The lists are published in BPjM-Aktuell , which appears quarterly and is available as a single issue for € 14. The official notices are also official works within the meaning of Section 5 (1) UrhG , so that their distribution by third parties - regardless of the other permissibility - is in any case not a violation of copyright .

With regard to the list of unpublished telemedia, this is made available in encrypted form, recognized in accordance with Section 24 (5) JuSchG , for the purpose of inclusion in user-autonomous filter programs . This applies, for example, to the self-regulation of search engine operators . "The authority only provides information about the composition of the list if you specifically request individual Internet addresses at the e-mail"

According to the new JuSchG, indexing is valid for 25 years, after which the medium must be deleted from the index. If the Federal Inspectorate is of the opinion that the youth endangerment still exists, it must carry out a new procedure.

If the factual or legal situation has changed, those involved in the proceedings can submit an application to resume the proceedings with the aim of deleting the list in accordance with Section 51 of the Administrative Procedure Act (VwVfG).

The list is divided into different parts of the list, which in turn are divided into different indices:

List parts index
A, B, E according to § 18 Abs. 2 Nr. 1 and 2 JuSchG

List A : (Public list of carrier media) Carrier media are harmful to young people
List B : (Public list of carrier media with an absolute distribution ban) Carrier media for which, according to the view of the BPjM, which is non-binding for courts, further dissemination bans under the StGB apply
List E : Entries before 1. April 2003

1 Films (1797 titles)
2 Games (536 tracks)
3 Print media (420 titles)
4th Sound carrier (1759 titles)
5 Advance indexes (0 titles)
C, D according to § 18 Abs. 2 Nr. 3 und 4 JuSchG (will not be published)

List C (Non-Public list of media), the youth-endangering carrier media, for the sole reason not to include on List A, because with them of a notice of inclusion in the list according to § 24 para. 3 sentence is foreseen 2 JuSchG and all telemedia the are harmful to young people and are subject to certain distribution bans under Section 4 of the State Treaty on Youth Media Protection ( JMStV ), unless they can be assigned to
List D : List D : (Non-public list of media with an absolute distribution ban) the carrier media that are not to be included in List B because at They should refrain from announcing their inclusion in the list in accordance with Section 24 (3) sentence 2 JuSchG, as well as all telemedia that may have content relevant to criminal law and for which, according to the BPjM's view, which is non-binding for courts, further dissemination bans under the StGB apply.

6th Telemedia (online offers) (5166 titles)
7th Carrier media (leaflet) (1 title)
Special overviews Confiscation / confiscation insofar as they have been communicated to the BPjM
8th Confiscations nationwide according to § 86 , § 86a , § 130 , § 130a StGB (198 titles)
9 Confiscations nationwide according to § 131 StGB (443 titles)
10 Confiscations nationwide in accordance with Section 184 (3) StGB, since April 1, 2004 Section 184a and Section 184b StGB (169 titles)
11 Confiscations nationwide according to § 90a , § 111 , § 169 , § 185 , § 187 StGB (5 titles)
Special overviews Advance indexes / current indexes (carrier media)
12 Advance indexes carrier media
13 Current indexing of carrier media (in the month of publication of the BPjM-Aktuell indexed carrier media)

The figures are from December 27, 2018.

Legal consequences

If the media concerned are entered in the list of publications that are harmful to minors, they may not be displayed in public in accordance with Section 15 JuSchG and may only be given to customers over the age of 18 upon request for the relevant title and may not be advertised in media that are accessible to young people. It is disputed whether a (critical) review of such publications is permissible in media accessible to young people. The public prosecutors have not agreed unanimously in this regard. The broadcast of films on television that are indexed or have essentially the same content as an indexed work is not permitted under the State Treaty on the Protection of Young People in the Media. The BPjM can, however, determine in a fee-based procedure that a film no longer has the same content after the application of cuts.

Media that are on list B are not automatically subject to a distribution ban, but initially only to the usual indexing restrictions. Only media for which a court has ordered nationwide seizure is definitely prohibited from spreading. The assessment of the Federal Inspectorate as to whether a medium is criminally relevant is not binding for courts. For example, Sleeping Dogs was initially registered by the BPjM on part B of the list, but the Cologne Administrative Court saw no violation of the criminal law, whereupon the title was moved to part A of the list.

BPjM filter module

In cooperation with search engine providers such as Google , the BPjM continuously creates lists of indexed online offers that serve as the basis for the BPjM filter module. This is used by the search engine operators to hide the indexed pages from German users. Correspondingly listed offers are no longer listed in search queries and therefore appear superficially to users as nonexistent. In addition, numerous software and hardware providers of youth protection solutions use the BPjM module to enable family-friendly Internet access for Internet users. Indexed websites can then no longer be accessed if the protection of minors is activated. A list with over 3000 decrypted entries of the module was leaked on the Internet in 2014 and could be viewed freely.


Advertising ban for indexed media

Critics often accuse the BPjM of factual censorship , paternalistic tutelage and restriction of freedom of speech and freedom of the press . In practice, indexing also makes access for adults more difficult, if not impossible, since indexed works are not allowed to be advertised and can only be sold by mail order under strict conditions; this often makes sales uneconomical and the media disappears from the market. Even in legally permissible situations, use the “scissors in the head” with journalists (who are not lawyers) and avoid mentioning them in order not to get into trouble. Such an institution does not exist in any other western democracy and the youth abroad are therefore not recognizably worse or more depraved than in Germany. Reasons for older indexes are, from today's point of view, incomprehensible “moral panic reactions” (cf. River Raid or Debil ).

The advertising ban for indexed media is not the aim of the indexing process, but its legal consequence. The Federal Inspectorate sees its task as raising awareness by indexing media that is harmful to minors that there is content that is unsuitable and harmful for children and young people.

Discourse about the media concerned rarely takes place in practice. One reason for this is the legal uncertainty when assessing whether a critical review of an indexed medium is permissible or whether it violates the advertising ban.

The judging practice of the Federal Inspectorate has changed over the decades and adapted to social perceptions. The indexes of the 50s and 60s, but also those from the early days of video and computer games, would no longer come about today - but many of them are still valid today.

Ordering viewers for computer games

Critics also consider the practice of the Federal Inspectorate to order viewers in the field of computer games, which reproduce the content of the games for the committee, as questionable. Since the panel members did not play the games they decide on, it is therefore impossible for them to fully appreciate the content of the games. Electronic Arts GmbH (Cologne) , for example, made this accusation in the indexing process for the war game Command & Conquer: Generals . The BPjM countered the accusation with reference to the fact that the employment of sifters should be legally accepted as sufficient:

“With regard to the further statements of those involved in the proceedings that the board of the federal inspection agency was not in a position to assess the content of the game because it did not play the game itself, the board of twelve could only reject this allegation. The Federal Inspectorate employs sifters who illuminate computer games in all facets for hours and bring the essential content of the computer game to the attention of the Federal Inspectorate's committee of twelve, which is sufficient as a basis for decision-making for indexing. The Committee of Twelve of the Federal Inspectorate also pointed out that in all of the judgments issued to date on computer games, the administrative courts have not required that the assessors have to play computer games themselves at all levels; of course, the opportunity to play must be given, whether or not they have used it the assessors can decide for themselves. It cannot be assumed that all committees that deal with the assessment of the effects of computer games that are detrimental or harmful to minors will have to play through the computer games themselves and at all levels. "

- Federal Testing Office for Media Harmful to Young People, Decision No. 5172 of March 6, 2003, "Command & Conquer - Generals" :

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: BPjM  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Bundesprüfstelle  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Retrieved August 30, 2019 .
  2. Bundestag, electoral period 1, printed matter No. 103
  3. Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff: Comics. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim, Basel 1990, ISBN 3-407-56521-6 , p. 103.
  4. Welt am Sonntag - Interview with Federal Family Minister Manuela Schwesig from May 22, 2016 on
  5. Federal Testing Office for Media Harmful to Young People - History. Retrieved May 2, 2020 .
  6. ^ Website publications of the BPjM on, accessed on May 19, 2016.
  7. heise online - operator of a piercing site complains about German censorship on
  8. a b Telepolis of May 2, 2009: Once prone to danger, always prone to danger
  9. Statistics. Federal Testing Office for Media Harmful to Young People (BPjM), December 27, 2018, accessed on January 30, 2019 .
  10. ^ VG Köln, judgment of November 28, 2014, Az .: 19 K 5130/13
  11. cf. For example,, June 19, 2009: Austrian retailer defends itself against indexing online at
  12. Indexed websites: Federal inspection agency files criminal charges against blacklist hackers
  13. Andre Meister: BPjM-Leak: Why we are removing a link from our reporting for the first time. Or: are we spreading child pornography? (Updates) , , July 9, 2014
  14. Telepolis of May 5, 2009: gunmen among themselves
  15. ↑ Killer Games - PC Powerplay speaks in the state parliament
  16. Video Game Stories River Raid ( Memento April 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  17. CD tip The Doctors - "Devil"
  18. Legal consequences of indexing carrier media
  19. ^ Commission for the protection of minors in the media: PDF , p. 118
  20. a b Telepolis from May 1st, 2009: How I once tried to buy an indexed film
  21. Quoted from: ( Memento from May 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). Accessed July 23, 2011

Coordinates: 50 ° 43 '17.1 "  N , 7 ° 3' 36.3"  E