Criminal marketplaces: Black and Red want to fight darknet excesses


With the draft law against the operation of criminal trading platforms on the Internet and the provision of associated server infrastructures, the federal government wants to close a criminal liability loophole. The coalition factions of the CDU / CSU and SPD fully support the initiative. At the first reading of the project on Friday in the Bundestag, however, it was difficult for them to explain the allegedly discovered blank space in the Criminal Code (StGB).

All opposition speakers agreed that the alleged loophole does not even exist. If narcotics, weapons or depictions of child sexual abuse were distributed via the Internet, brokering would also be punishable, according to the Green Canan Bayram. Such activities are already regarded as aiding and abetting an unlawful act. The coalition therefore operates “pure actionism” and should better ensure that the prosecutors have the right personnel and technical equipment.

The left-wing Niema Movassat spoke of a “pipe dream” of the federal government, which they wanted to use shortly before the end of the legislative period for a “cheap PR stunt” to work off their agenda. The list of recorded crimes, from counterfeit handbags to contract murder, goes way too far. The real purpose of the “half-baked, nonsensical draft” is to expand the scope of one of the most fundamental rights-intensive investigative instruments with the secret online search.

Tobias Matthias Peterka (AfD) demanded that if the coalition wanted to expand instruments such as the use of state Trojans, telecommunications monitoring, data queries and acoustic living space monitoring, they should name the child. “You only get those who do business in Germany,” added Jürgen Martens (FDP). The bottleneck remains the training and capacity of the investigating authorities: no matter how strict criminal law is, “if no one is there to handle it”.

Since the “deepest and most hideous sides” of human beings come to light on criminal online marketplaces, readjustment is essential, said Volker Ullrich (CSU). If legal things were also traded on a platform, the operator could always excuse himself so far: “The concrete intent of the assistant on the main act would go nowhere”. This construct will soon no longer be necessary for criminal liability. In addition, platforms are also recorded whose sales are organized “self-controlled” with the help of artificial intelligence.

“So far, only the criminal offense of aiding and abetting applies,” said the Social Democrat Karl-Heinz Brunner, trying to get an explanation. This requires that the operator “must have knowledge of the essential parts of the main act”. In future it will be sufficient that a platform is made available. This helps to get the “excesses of the Darknet and the World Wide Web under control”, even if some things might not have to be regulated. Neutral service providers are not affected.

“There must be no lawless spaces, not even in the darknet,” said the Christian Democrat Axel Müller, behind the government’s approach. The fact that operators focus on their ignorance of illegal activities and wash their hands in innocence is “all in all unbearable”. He therefore also welcomed it if the code of criminal procedure “added something to telephone surveillance and online searches”. According to Ullrich, this is also necessary to track down the marketplaces and to find out who are behind them.

“We are closing unacceptable gaps,” asserted Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). On the portals that will be incriminated in the future, “hideous deals” will be made, for example with “appalling images of sexual violence against children”, drugs and passwords from hacker campaigns. The affected marketplaces would have to be “geared towards promoting the commission of certain criminal offenses”. These offenses are “precisely defined”.