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Networking The Internet Technology

German Federal Court Rules That Internet Connection Is Crucial To Everyday Life 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-without-my-net dept.
Qedward writes "Internet access is as crucial to everyday life as having a phone connection and the loss of connectivity is deserving of financial compensation, the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled. Because having an internet connection is so significant for a large part of the German population, a customer whose service provider failed to provide connectivity between December 2008 and February 2009 is entitled to compensation, the court ruled today. 'It is the first time the court ruled that an internet connection is as important a commodity as having a phone,' said court spokeswoman Dietlind Weinland. The court, however, denied the plaintiff's request of €50 a day for his fax machine not working."
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German Federal Court Rules That Internet Connection Is Crucial To Everyday Life

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  • Surely... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmistressrachel (903577) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:04PM (#42687197) Journal

    If Internet is essential to everyday life, these so called "rehab clinics" where they "cure" people from the Internets are actually not "good for us" at all.

    • Re:Surely... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:12PM (#42687263)

      If food is essential to everyday life, these so called "weight loss clinics" where they "cure" people from their food addiction are actually not "good for us" at all.

      Fix'd. Even water can be bad for you if you drink it too much.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      If Internet is essential to everyday life,

      That's all fine and dandy until power is los....

  • Phone / Internet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You don't get compensation if your phone is out of order, why should you for internet?

    What if the internet is down because the phone is? It isn't the ISPs fault but the owner of the copper.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:15PM (#42687291) Homepage Journal

      What if the internet is down because the phone is? It isn't the ISPs fault but the owner of the copper.

      Then the owner of the copper owes a refund to the ISP with which it signed a service level agreement.

      • I have never seen a residential phone / tv / internet subscription which came with any sort of substantial SLA.

        • by tepples (727027)
          In this case, the SLA wouldn't be between the ISP and the residential-class end user as much as between, say, a DSL ISP and the local phone company. By copper owner, I meant the owner of the last mile, not the owner of inside wiring on the end user premises.
    • Re:Phone / Internet (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:21PM (#42687329) Journal

      You don't get compensation if your phone is out of order, why should you for internet?

      You do get compensation in Australia, through Service Level Agreements.

      • In New Zealand it is (or at least was) 24 hours without the phone = 1 months free line rental. I know of at least one power company in New Zealand that has to pay out $50 to each affected customer if an outage on their network lasts more than 4 hours. Both of these are for residential connections.

        • Must be nice. Here the power company is a monopoly. The phone company is a duopoly, Verizon and Comcast in my case. If they have a service outage about the most they will do for you is say "we are aware of the problem and will fix it as soon as possible". My personally suspicion is that they are actually sitting there reveling in their power to torment you. Frankly I am surprised that they haven't implemented a bidding system to see whose power / phone gets turned back on first, or at all.

    • by anubi (640541)
      What I would like to know is why is it I am expected to pay full price during service lapses?

      If I paid someone to mow my lawn, but he couldn't get his lawn mower started, am I still obligated to pay for a mowed lawn?

      All this AT&T style "up-to" talk frustrates me. Imagine an airline selling tickets for seats "up to" 40 inches wide, only to find out upon boarding you get a seat four inches wide... and sometimes do not get a seat at all. How many people would settle for "AT&T talk" for airline
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Imagine an airline selling tickets for seats "up to" 40 inches wide,

        I'll do you one better: Imagine an airline selling you "up to" one seat, overselling the flight and asking people to please accept a free ticket to XYZ if they volunteer to not board the flight.

    • Re:Phone / Internet (Score:5, Informative)

      by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:47PM (#42687479)
      This is only superficially about compensation. The ruling means that as a crucial service the copyright police can't cut off your internet as a punishment for downloading mp3s.
  • by detain (687995) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:35PM (#42687409) Homepage
    I'm one of the many people who have a "high-speed" broadband account advertised as what to buy for streaming online media, but the ISP gives a 200gb cap and drops you as a client if you go over it for more than 2 months. Watching Netflix HD video only a few hours a day hits that cap in no time, making the account not actually usable for what its advertised. I hope the effects of this ruling eventually trickles down to my country and this type of dropping a user is made illegal. At the very least switching a user to a more throttled connection would be a good compromise. Oh the ISP that does this is ptd.net, but alot of ISPs have similar practices.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:58PM (#42687551)

      I hope the effects of this ruling eventually trickles down to my country and this type of dropping a user is made illegal.

      The telcos and cabelcos have divided the country up into effective monopoly regions without the oversight that public utlities normally have. They also spend more on lobbying than any other trade group. So it ain't going to happen until something extreme happens, like a pretty blonde child dies in a way that can be directly attributed to a data-cap.

    • I hope the effects of this ruling eventually trickles down to my country and this type of dropping a user is made illegal.

      AAAHAAAHHHAAAAAaaaaaaah. Good one! No, the court ruled this was basically a breach of contract because any reasonable person would expect their service provider to have repaired the outage in less than, uhh, two months. The contract you signed says "200GB cap, lulz" so no, the courts won't do anything about that. They're saying internet is a vital resource, not that you get an unlimited amount of it. It's like the roads (tada! I never disappoint slashdot! Car analogy time) -- you can drive your car on them

      • by sjames (1099)

        There is the question of 'reasonable' though. In the car analogy, a 'road' that has a 10Kg axle weight restriction isn't a 'reasonable' road.

    • then they will just slow you down and say for X per MB / GB / ECT we will restore your speed to full.

  • Don't be absurd! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafo (11982) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @11:55PM (#42687537) Homepage

    "Internet access is as crucial to everyday life as having a phone connection [...]"

    The telcos *WISH* that having a phone connection were as crucial to everyday life as Internet access...

    • by G3ckoG33k (647276)

      "The telcos *WISH* that having a phone connection were as crucial to everyday life as Internet access..."

      Where I live this has already happened.

    • by neminem (561346)

      Having a phone connection is *exactly* as crucial to everyday life as internet access around here... because Verizon won't let you not pay for a phone line if you want internet around here. (Or rather, if you really insist, they will, but they'll charge you about 10 dollars more for not having a phone line than for having one.)

  • I do not think the word means what they think it means.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't overlook the fact that Germans speak German, the word "crucial" was not used by them. TFA links to a German text which uses the formulations "zentraler Wichtigkeit" and "zentraler Bedeutung". It seems that "central importance" was translated as "crucial", which to me sounds quite a bit stronger. If they had meant it to be that strong I think they would have used words like "entscheidend" or "essenziell" instead of "zentral" in the original.

  • and why should they... Scanners+email+internet have replaced that function, but are also what many teenagers don't know how to use.

    Todays' kids take a photo with their smartphone and mms it. That's mobile phone systems, not the good old and tried internet with cables and dirt.

  • by terec (2797475) on Friday January 25, 2013 @07:26AM (#42689257)

    It's good when businesses are held responsible for failing to provide the service their customers are paying for.

    However, it sucks that the court thinks you only deserve compensation when it is for something "essential" and if you were dumb enough not to get an alternative yourself ahead of time.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The ruling is a bit more subtle than that. There are actually two issues.

      The first is that the utility provider has a "reasonable" amount of time to fix faults, and because internet access is so vital what counts as "reasonable" is a much shorter time than say cable TV. Previously I'm sure ISPs would have liked to equate internet access with pure entertainment services like TV, rather than essential ones like electricity or phone. Additionally it's not like you can just get another ISP - often the contract

      • by terec (2797475)

        Yes, and I think that subtlety is a bad idea and creates the wrong incentives. A court shouldn't opine on how important something is to me, or how much it costs me to replace something. Companies should be responsible for the service they provide, but they shouldn't be responsible for unusually high damages because you can't be away from work, and neither should I be penalized if my time is more flexible.

  • I wonder, then, if it will no longer take a month between the time that you order your connection and the time that they come to hook it up. I moved to Germany two years ago, and I was lucky, it only took 3 weeks before Deutch Telekom turned on my DSL. Some of my colleagues have had to wait for 7-8 weeks!

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