According to the Federal Court of Justice in Karsruhe, people have the right to demand compensation from their Internet service providers if their access or connection is disrupted, claiming the Internet is an “essential” part of life.
"Most people in Germany use the Internet daily,” the Federal Court of Justice in Karsruhe stated. “Thus, it has become an essential medium in the life of German society, the disruption of which has an immediate impact on the course of everyday life.”
The Federal Court’s decision was made after hearing the case of a man who said he was unable to use his high-speed Internet connection for two months from late 2008 to early 2009. Despite also having a telephone and fax line, which were compensated for by his service provider, the man never got any recompense for his loss of Internet service. According to German law, the loss of “use of essential material items can be compensated,” which means that the Internet can now legally be recognized as an “essential” in the country.
"Due to easy access to information, the Internet has overtaken the role of mass media such as encyclopedias, print press and TV. It allows global exchange between the users, such as through the email, forums, blogs and social media. Besides, it is becoming more and more crucial for negotiating and striking deals, as well as fulfillment of public service obligations," the court ruling said.
The plaintiff in this case had originally asked for the amount of 50 euros per day without Internet service, including DLS, VoIP services and fax over IP. However, the court only compensated the man for his loss of Internet connection, stating that the VoIP service wasn’t essential since he also owned a mobile phone and also adding that fax usage is limited and “irrelevant” compared to email.
The final amount of compensation has yet to be determined.
“The Internet plays a very important role today and affects the private life of an individual in very decisive ways,” a court spokeswoman said in an interview with Germany’s ARD television (via NBCNews). “Therefore, loss of use of the Internet is comparable to the loss of use of a car.”