The 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz), the 2020 New Vocational Training Act, and the 2021 Telecommunications-Telemedia-Data Protection Act (Telekommunikation-Telemedien-Datenschutzgesetz (TTDSG)) neither mention the terms "information and communication technology (ICT)" and "educational technology (EdTech)" nor other technology-specific terminology (e.g., distance education, open educational resources and assistive technologies in education). However, the 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz) mentions the term "information technology" in Article 91c without defining the term. Similarly, last amended in 2022, the 2005 School Education Act (Schulgesetz) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) mentions the term “information technology” in Sections 79, 120, 121.
The 2022 Open Educational Resources (OER) strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) defines the term “open educational resources” as “learning, teaching, and research materials, in any format and medium, that are in the public domain or copyrighted and released under an open license, allowing free access, reuse, re-purpose, adaptation, and redistribution.” Overall goal of the strategy is to support and establish a digital ecosystem for OER based on necessary competences, practices, technologies, research and networking to leverage the potential of OER for the acquisition of 21st-Centruy Skills along the education chain. The strategy is a learning strategy. It also addresses developments, structures and needs that became visible in the Corona pandemic. OER-promoting infrastructures and practices for schools, which are also developing through the DigitalPact for Schools, will be an important pillar here. The Federal Ministry will specifically complement OER initiatives of the federal states in order to jointly advance programme and platform structures for an OER-promoting digital ecosystem.
Constitution and laws: Along with promoting scientific and academic research, technological development, and child and youth welfare, the 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz) aims to provide students with financial assistance. According to Section 84 of the 2020 New Vocational Training Act, the development of instruments and procedures for the provision of vocational training and the promotion of knowledge and technology transfer is one of the objectives of vocational training research.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2014-17 Digital Agenda aims to establish a robust digital economy. The following strategic core objectives underpin it: improving digital infrastructure, supporting and promoting digitisation of the workplace, innovating public administration services, shaping digital environments in society for better communication and collaboration, accelerating education, science, culture, and media for the digital knowledge society, building security protection and trust within society and economy, integrating the Digital Agenda in the European and international contexts.
Aligned with the European Digital Agenda, the 2015 ICT Strategy of the German Federal Government aims to expand digital infrastructure, strengthen ICT education, training, research and innovation, increase jobs through digitalisation, safeguard internet users' rights and privacy, consistently use ICT in all industries, such as health, transport. The 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK)) contains objectives and areas of action for all sixteen federal states, the federal government, local authorities, school organisations and schools to integrate the digital transformation of society into the teaching and learning processes. The field of action of the strategy includes a) educational plans and lesson development, curricular developments, b) education, training and further education of teachers, c) infrastructure and equipment, d) educational media, e) e-government and school administration programs, education and campus management systems, f) legal and functional framework conditions. In December 2021, the Education in the Digital World Strategy was supplemented by an additional Recommendation on Teaching and Learning in the Digital World (KMK Resolution, December 9th, 2021). In addition to the necessary measures for digital transformation in the area of teaching and learning, this flanks other challenges that have to be overcome, including IT infrastructure, content and structures for research-based development and implementation of digital teaching technologies, monitoring and educational data and structures for the promotion of computer skills.
The 2016 Education Offensive for the Digital Knowledge Society (Bildungsoffensive für die digitale Wissensgesellschaft) Strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) aims to systematise five fields of action required for the digital transformation of the country. The measures include imparting digital education at all levels, expanding powerful digital infrastructures, creating a contemporary legal framework, supporting strategic organisational development, and using the potential of internationalisation.
The 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy and the 2016 Education Offensive for the Digital Knowledge Society (Bildungsoffensive für die digitale Wissensgesellschaft) Strategy form the base of some crucial initiatives of the federal government. For example, the 2019-24 Digital Pact Schools (DigitalPakt Schule) aims to grant the federal states financial aid for state-wide investments to increase the performance of the digital municipal educational infrastructure based on Article 104c of the 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz).
Part of the 2016 Education Offensive for the Digital Knowledge Society (Bildungsoffensive für die digitale Wissensgesellschaft) Strategy and the Vocational Education and Training 4.0, the 2019 Qualification Initiative Digital Change - Q4.0 aims to develop continuing education concepts for vocational training personnel to prepare for the requirements associated with digitisation in dual training.
The 5G Strategy of Germany aims for full 5G population coverage by 2030. To achieve this goal, the strategy aims to make available frequencies based on demand; promote cooperation between telecommunications and user industries; take account of requirements, ideas and solutions of the affected user industries in standardisation; initiate 5G in towns and cities early on. Furthermore, the strategy prioritises increasing access to 5G networks in rural areas.
Many other federal government strategies also focus on network expansion and the nationwide supply of mobile services, especially in rural areas. For instance, The 2019 Mobile Communications Strategy aims to ensure a national supply of mobile voice and data services; in the 2021 Coalition Agreement of the German Federal Government, the improvement of the digital infrastructure is one of the priorities with a goal of the nationwide supply of 5G networks by 2025; the 2022 Digital Strategy and the 2022 Gigabit Strategy aim at the national supply of fibre optic and the latest mobile communications technologies in all areas by 2030.
The 2022 Open Educational Resources (OER) strategy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) describes the role of open educational materials and processes for modern digital education.
Digital competency frameworks: To enhance individual and self-directed learning, empowerment, identity formation and self-confidence and enable self-determined participation in the digital society, the 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy provides a digital competency framework.
Almost every federal state has adopted the Orientation Framework for Media Education in Schools (Orientierungsrahmen für eine Medienerziehung in der Schule) of the Federal-State Commission for Educational Planning and Research Funding (Bund-Länder-Kommission für Bildungsplanung und Forschungsförderung (BLK)), which is a supporting instrument for the creation of media education concepts at public schools and it provides concrete, practical examples for working with mobile end devices at schools.
The 2020 Media Competency Framework of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia aims to enable students to use media safely, creatively and responsibly and to impart basic computer science in addition to comprehensive media competence. Furthermore, the 2020 Media Competency Framework aims to make media literacy a firm part of the school day; improve the connection between schools and out-of-school activities in this field; and help teachers understand what skills children and adolescents need.
Based on the federal and state governments' agreement and funding guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)), the 2013 Quality Campaign for Teacher Education (Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung(QLB)) provides a framework for improving teachers' training and teaching methods with the emerging technologies, and the required skills that teachers need as a result of digitalisation.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: According to the 2020 Resolution of the 369th Conference of Ministers of Education, higher education institutions should offer digital teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: In addition to specifying the pace at which sustainable energy is to be expanded in the coming years, the 2021 Renewable Energy Sources Act also ensures access to electricity in rural or remote areas.
Computers and devices: According to Section 79 of the 2005 School Education Act (Schulgesetz) of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), "the school authorities are obliged to provide and maintain the school facilities, buildings, facilities and teaching materials necessary for proper teaching, as well as to provide the personnel necessary for school administration and equipment oriented towards the general state of the art and information technology".
In 2019 the federal government and the Länder negotiated an agreement to improve the digital infrastructure at schools (“DigitalPakt Schule”). The agreement stipulates that the government will support the Länder by investing five billion euros in digital infrastructure (e.g., wi-fi and digital learning environments) until 2024. The Länder provide their own contribution of at least 10 per cent of the costs and are responsible for implementing the agreement which includes the application process, the reimbursement of costs and the accounting of measures.
The 2019-24 Digital Pact Schools (DigitalPakt Schule) emphasises the need to invest in the establishment of school Wi-Fi and digital networking in school buildings and school premises. It also informs federal state governments to invest in digital infrastructure and display and interaction devices (e.g., interactive whiteboards, displays and associated control devices) for use in schools and school-related mobile devices (laptops, notebooks and tablets).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government and the Länder agreed to extend the DigitalPakt Schule by three further programmes. The federal government agreed to provide additional funding in the amount of 500 million euros per programme (1.5 billion euros in total) to
- equip students with school-related mobile devices that can be borrowed by students without access to a digital device at home in order to attend lessons virtually,
- fund technical support and professional structures for IT administration including qualification and further training in order to maintain and improve the technical infrastructure of schools,
- equip teachers with school-related mobile devices for preparing and reflecting lessons given virtually or in classroom.
Internet connectivity: There are laws and strategies in Germany that aim to create a viable digital infrastructure. For instance, the 1996 Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz (TKG)) aims to provide access to a minimum set of telecommunications services for the public, irrespective of residence or work, at an affordable price.
Under the improving digital infrastructure objective of the 2014-17 Digital Agenda, the Federal Government aimed to use an efficient mix of technologies to provide ubiquitous broadband infrastructure, delivering download speeds of at least 50 Mb per second by 2018. Furthermore, the 2014-17 Digital Agenda aimed to provide the infrastructure needed for new ways of working, such as home offices or educational models in schools and universities.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Setting and enhancing digital learning and teaching platforms, backed up by cross-cutting technologies, is one of the priorities of the federal government's many acts, strategies and programs.
From the perspective of the Länder, dynamic cloud infrastructures for both general and vocational schools in the form of online teaching-learning environments that enable virtual and hybrid forms of teaching are provided. In addition to the investment measures in each single Land also joint and overarching investment measures (länderübergreifende Vorhaben) are carried out. These are funded under the DigitalPakt Schule 2019 – 2024, where 250 million euros of federal funding is available to support the development of a digital education infrastructure across the Länder. By the end of 2022, more than 20 of such projects had been launched. These projects address common interfaces for the central provision and testing of educational media, common learning platforms and the use of artificial intelligence to optimise learning outcomes.
According to the 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy,one of the most important goals of the KMK is to ensure that all students, especially girls, have access to a digital learning environment and the Internet.. To this end, the strategy identifies some prerequisites: access to digital learning content and digital learning platforms.
In the course of the implementation of the 2017 Online Access Act (Onlinezugangsgesetzes (OZG)) in the field of education, the Platform for Student International Mobility (PIM) supports universities as well as national and international students with the digital procedure for the recognition of the transfer of credits training career through an interoperable digital offer.
The School Transform Platform supports schools and school authorities holistically to master the challenges of an increasingly digital world.
Embedded in the National Skills Strategy (Nationale Weiterbildungsstrategie), which is driven byboth the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS)), the INVITE innovation competition aims to connect existing training platforms with each other, increase the quality of further training platforms and develop AI-supported training offers that make individualized learning possible, for example by also taking into account elements of Game-based Learning.
To compensate for the loss of learning time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) created the National Education Platform, which connects educational offerings and thus creates access to a wider range of educational opportunities for every citizen achieved by common standards, formats and interoperable structures. To implement the platform, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) is funding, amongst others, the development of up to four prototypes for the platform. Since 2021, the prototype of a technical infrastructure for a digital education platform, Bildungsraum Digital – BIRD, has been funded.
Developed as a pilot project by the Hasso Plattner Institute in cooperation with the national excellence school MINT-EC network and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)), the School Cloud offers a secure, functionally comprehensive and wide-ranging learning infrastructure to students and teachers with minimal technical requirements. During the corona pandemic, the School Cloud was available to all schools that did not receive a comparable offer from the state or school authority. Some federal states decided and have started further development of the School Cloud in one of the joint and overarching projects of DigitalPact for schools. Furthermore, the WirlernenOnline platform offers open educational resources to support teachers, students, parents and other interested parties in improving their methods and tools for teaching and learning.
The vhs learning portal promotes a digital learning platform to provide adult learners with free digital learning opportunities in the areas of literacy and primary education as well as German as a second language. The portal also has an interface to the vhs.cloud, where a complete learning management system is offered for online-supported courses.
With KI-Campus , an open-source digital educational portal specialising on free online-courses on "Artificial Intelligence" is being developed.
Adopted in 2012, the Declaration on Media Education in Schools (Erklärung zur Medienbildung in der Schule) of the KMKdesigns to make media education an integral part of the mandatory school curriculum.
According to the digital competency framework of the 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy, the competencies in the digital world include a) search, processing and retention; b) communicate and cooperate; c) produce and present; d) protect and act safely; e) problem-solving and action; and f) analyse and reflect.
Supporting the inclusion of girls and women in STEM education, the 2022 STEM Action Plan 2.0 also plans to impart digital skills, and it defines cooperation, quality, family, research and early start as "the 5-point Plan for more STEM competencies". Furthermore, to enable the best educational and participation opportunities for everyone and STEM knowledge, the 2022 STEM Action Plan 2.0 organises student competitions and plans to expand nationwide STEM clusters that coordinate STEM offers for young people on-site or in coordination with the STEM Networking Center (MINTvernetzt).
Started in 2009 and financed by the Bavarian State Chancellery (Bayerische Staatskanzlei), the Media Driver's Licence (Medienführerschein) Initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Unterricht und Kultus) aims to improve the media skills of children, young people and adults. It offers lesson plans for primary and several types of secondary schools (Mittelschule, Realschule, Gymnasium). Furthermore, the Media Driver's Licence (Medienführerschein) Initiative has also been extended to vocational schools by the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw -Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e.V.).
In Lower Saxony, based on the competence areas of the 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy of the SKMK, the competency model of the Orientation Framework for Media Education in Schools in Lower Saxony structures the acquisition of competencies in six areas on three competency levels. Six areas include search, collect, process and store; communicate and store; producing and presenting; protect and act safely; problem solving and action; analyse, contextualise and reflect. The competency model can be used for school years and personalised learning.
In the state of Baden-Württemberg, a basic course in media education was introduced in Gymnasium as part of the 2016 Education Plan (Bildungsplan des Gymnasiums). The basic course is an entry-level class in learning how to handle and consume media independently and responsibly. Students who complete the course are issued a media passport (Medienpass).
Last amended in 2022, the 2005 School Education Act (Schulgesetz) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) mentions the required skills to cope with and seize future requirements and opportunities in a digitalized world. Specifically, Section 2 (6) item 9 of the 2005 School Education Act (Schulgesetz) states that "students should deal with media responsibly and safely even in the digital world". Furthermore, in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), the 2020 Media Competency Framework comprises a total of 24 sub-competences geared towards building media literacy along the educational chain. The individual sub-competences have six other overarching areas of competence: operate and apply, inform and research, communicate and cooperate, produce and present, analyse and reflect, problem-solving and modelling. Started in 2011, the Media Scouts (Medienscouts NRW) Project of the North Rhine-Westphalian Media Authorities (Landesanstalt für Medien in Nordrhein-Westfalen) trains small groups of secondary school students to become knowledgeable scouts.
The city-state of Hamburg includes media passports (Medienpass) with five modules as part of the school curriculum. It helps teachers accompany children and adolescents as they move through the digital world and assist them in learning to handle digital services and information in a socially responsible, competent way.
The state of Baden-Württemberg recognises that dealing with digital media is one of the important digital competencies, therefore plans to introduce media education for all students in Class 5 in cooperation with the State Institute of School Development (Institut für Bildungsanalysen Baden-Württemberg) and the State Media Center of Baden-Württemberg.
Many initiatives in Germany take an intergenerational approach to promoting digital skills. Started in 2008, the Ein Netz für Kinder (A Net for Children) initiative by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) and the Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien (Good growth with media) initiative by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth support parents and pedagogical professionals in their educational responsibility in the digital age and offers children and young people age-appropriate access to the media world.
There are many projects associated with the Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien (Good growth with media) initiative. For instance, the Deutscher Multimediapreis mb21 (German Multimedia Award mb21) is a nationwide competition that honours digital, network-based and interactive works by children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 25 and acknowledges their creative ideas. The SCHAU HIN! Was Dein Kind mit Medien macht (Look! what your child does with media) Guide supports parents and educators with every day, age-appropriate, and up-to-date recommendations for child media use.
The federal government has taken many actions to equip teachers in schools, training institutions, universities and continuing education with digital skills and concepts for digital teaching.
In the area of digital competencies, the 2012 Declaration on Media Education in Schools (Erklärung zur Medienbildung in der Schule) of the KMK provides schools and teachers with guidance on media education in the classroom. The 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy describes the required digital competencies in teacher training. The digital competencies in teacher training include aspects of media didactics, media ethics, media education and media-related school development. According to the strategy, teachers should be able to develop their general media skills continuously. Some of the teacher media skills include dealing safely with technical devices, programs, learning and working platforms, also collegially; choosing quality learning materials for students or group work from many educational media (commercial offers of publishers and open educational resources (OER)); developing their knowledge of copyright, data protection and data security; and empowering students to consciously deal with media and their own data in digital spaces. It also emphasises the need for teachers' training to acquire and develop the skills described above.
In the context of digitalization and accelerated by the corona pandemic, the focus is on the (further) development of cross-phase concepts for the training, further education and further training of teachers and in this context the expansion of offers for the acquisition of digitalization-related and subject-specific teaching skills. Teacher training is an essential building block for the success of digital education and thus also for the participation of adolescents in the digitalized world.
In March 2020, the KMK passed “key points for the further training of teachers as part of their professionalization in the third phase of teacher training”. In these cornerstones, based on central research results on further training, quality criteria for the design of further training courses are formulated so that they can achieve the desired effects and sustainability.
The 2018 Federal Gazette Guideline focuses on "Digitisation in Teacher Education" and/or "Teacher Education for Vocational Schools" for the second funding phase of the 2013 Quality Campaign for Teacher Education (Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung(QLB)). In the priority area, ''digitalisation-related competencies of teachers", relevant teacher skills include technical/computer, process-related, practical teaching, and leadership, also considering attitudes and behaviors. The other priority area, "learning contexts in teacher training," focuses on the use of digital media for the development and design of innovative learning contexts and formats (e.g., through new curricular components, virtual reality worlds, blended learning offers, social media integration) to improve the didactic and methodical quality of teaching-learning processes and outcomes and their transferability in all phases of teacher education and school practices.
Associated with the Growing Up with Media (Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien) initiative of the Federal Ministry for Familiy Affairs, Senior Citiziens, Women und Youth, the Growing Up in the Media World Platform provides eight short films to support pedagogical professionals, educators and day-care workers so that they can learn about technology and accompany children in processing their digital media experiences. As of 2023, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)) will start "Competence Centers for Digital and Digitally Supported Teaching in Schools and Continuing Education" to support teachers in strengthening their digital skills and in using digital tools in a didactic and pedagogical sense. Furthermore, Germany is involved in different initiatives of the EU within the "European Education Area" (EEA). For instance, Germany closely follows the 2022 Guidelines for teachers and educators on tackling disinformation and promoting digital literacy through education and training, published by the European Commission.
In the area of teachers' training, based on the federal and state governments' agreement and funding guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the 2013 Quality Campaign for Teacher Education (Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung (QLB)) aims to improve teacher training courses, preparatory service and the further training opportunities for teachers in the long term.
Implemented in the two phases, 2014-18 and 2019-23, with the Quality Offensive Teacher Training, the federal and state governments plan to jointly achieve a sustainable improvement for the entire process of teacher training up to the career entry phase and further education. Since 2020, this has been expanded with an additional funding line to include a focus on digitalisation.
The program, "Administration", associated with the 2019-24 Digital Pact Schools (DigitalPakt Schule) helps train administrators responsible for improving digital educational infrastructure.
With the establishment of a STEM campus, the 2022 STEM Action Plan 2.0 plans to support and further professionalise STEM actors, especially teachers, with training offers and train-the-trainer modules and supporting materials. Furthermore, capitalising on the priorities of the 2022 STEM Action Plan 2.0, the STEM Networking Center (MINTvernetzt) is currently programming a community platform that will enable STEM actors (for example, teachers and parents) to have their digital forum to enhance networking and exchange of best STEM teaching and learning practices and the latest STEM research findings.
With the Qualification Initiative Digital Change "Q 4.0", the federal government has been developing and testing tailor-made qualifications for company training staff since 2019. The focus is on media pedagogical knowledge and specialist and social skills to make the contents and processes of dual training suitable for digital transformation.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Gone through several amendments, the 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz) of the Federal Republic of Germany aims to preserve the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications.
The German Criminal Code (last amended by Article 2 of the Act of November 22, 2021, Federal Law Gazette I, p. 4906) has specific sections dedicated to combatting data privacy violations. According to Section 202(a), obtaining unauthorised access to data by circumventing access protection incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine. And Section 202(b) aims to prevent data intercepting by incurring a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine.
Entered into force in 2016, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - Regulation 2016/679 of the European Parliament and the European Council is a European Union law which became directly applicable law in all Member States of the European Union on 25 May 2018, following a two-year transition period, without requiring implementation by the EU Member States through national law. The 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to protect the personal information of citizens and residents of EU member states. And there are two tiers of penalties in case of regulation violation.
The 2017 German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG)), which came into force with the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), aims to use the numerous opening clauses under the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The 2017 German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG)) is the governing law on data privacy and protection matters in Germany.
In addition to the 2017 German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG)), the 2021 Telecommunications-Telemedia-Data Protection Act (Telekommunikation-Telemedien-Datenschutzgesetz (TTDSG)) ensures the right of individuals to privacy and confidentiality of their data and information. The 2021 Telecommunications-Telemedia-Data Protection Act (Telekommunikation-Telemedien-Datenschutzgesetz (TTDSG)) provides data protection regulations for telecommunication and TeleMedia providers, which are intended to eliminate a long-standing legal uncertainty about the applicability of the data protection regulations of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz (TKG)) and the 2007 Telemedia Act (Telemediengesetz (TMG)) in interaction with the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
However, the above-mentioned legal instruments do not explicitly mention data privacy and protection from the use of technology in education.
There are provisions to protect data privacy and protection from the use of technology in education in legislations of the many federal states. Section 120 of the 2005 School Education Act (Schulgesetz) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) protects the data of students (especiallygirls) and parents.
According to Section 115 of the 1983 School Act of Baden-Württemberg (Schulgesetz für Baden-Württemberg (SchG)), amended in 2022, "a school is entitled to collect personal data from students, their legal guardians and those who are entrusted with the upbringing or care of a student at another school for cross-school administrative purposes. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education can commission one or more offices to process students' personal data necessary for statistical purposes."
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Section 238 of the German Criminal Code sanctions stalking and Section 176(a) of the German Criminal Code sanctions sexual abuse of children below 14 years of age without physical contact with the child, i.e. inter alia online sexual abuse of children.
According to Sections 22 and 23 of the 2001 Law on Copyright in Works of Fine Art and Photography, parents' consent is in principle required to distribute and publicly display children's images. In the case of adolescents (aged 14 to 18 years) who have the necessary capacity of understanding, their own consent may be required in addition to the consent of their parents.
The 2002 Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz (JuSchG)) is the legal basis for protecting children (aged below 14 years) and adolescents (aged 14 but not yet 18 years) from any harm to their mental, psychological and physical welfare. In the area of the protection of minors from harmful media, it is also intended to guarantee the right of children and adolescents to develop their personality as undisturbed as possible and to become responsible individuals in social society. It stipulates age limits for public film screenings (Section 11), for data media with films and games (Section 12) and for labelling of films (Section 14), for instance. According to Section 14 of The 2002 Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz (JuSchG)), "films and play programs for the information, instructional or teaching purposes may only be marked by the provider with "information program" or "teaching program" if they obviously do not affect the development or education of children and adolescents".
The 2002 Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz (JuSchG)) was amended in April 2021, where the amendments focus on media protection concerning the online and digital worlds. According to the 2021 Second Act Amending the Protection of Young Persons Act (Zweites Gesetz zur Änderung des Jugendschutzgesetzes), internet service providers are obliged to make pre-sets that protect children and adolescents, in particular from interaction risks such as bullying, sexualised addressing ("cyber grooming"), hate speech, tracking and cost traps. They are also intended to provide a simple, easily accessible and understandable help and complaint system when children and adolescents feel threatened or harassed; In addition, further control and setting options are conceivable with which parents can, for example, influence the duration of use of the respective medium or restrict the acquisition options of digital goods.
Associated with the Growing Up with Media (Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien) initiative of the Federal Ministry for Familiy Affairs, Senior Citiziens, Women und Youth the media guide "SCHAU HIN! Was Dein Kind mit Medien macht" (WATCH! How Your Child Uses Media) provides parents with guidance in matters of media education and use.
Last amended in 2015, the Inter-State Agreement on Youth Protection in the Media (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (JMStV)) of the German federal states is the universally applicable legal basis for youth protection concerning radio, TV and the Internet. It stipulates when and how certain media content may be broadcasted or otherwise distributed. The aim is to protect children and adolescents from electronic information or communication media content that interferes with or endangers their development or education. In addition, it affords protection from content in electronic information or communication media that violates their human dignity, or any other legal interests protected by the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch (StGB)).
At the interface between media literacy, youth protection, and internet policy is the 2017 Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG)), which combats online hate speech. The 2017 Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG)) requires social network service providers to delete or block access to punishable content, among others showing online sexual abuse and exploitation material on children, when such content has been reported by users.
However, the above-mentioned legal instruments do not explicitly mention preventing and responding to online abuse and cyberbullying of students in educational institutions.
The 2016 Education in the Digital World (Bildung in der digitalen Welt) Strategy emphasises the role of parents in the acquisition of children's digital skills in the digital world and combating digital risks. According to the strategy, in the extracurricular area, the parents can decide whether, how and from what age they want their children to use digital media at home and digital education tools. Furthermore, parents can express their wishes and concerns to the school and the school authority because of their rights to information anchored in the school laws of the federal states and rights to participation enshrined in the school participation laws in implementing the necessary change.
At the federal level, several ministries support projects and activities that promote media literacy and digital education from various angles. They include the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz) in matters relating to consumer protection, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie), the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat), and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur).
The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (Bundesministerium für Digitales und Verkehr (BMDV)) is responsible for developing and implementing the federal government’s broadband strategy. The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz) promotes the critical areas of digital infrastructure and transport infrastructure. The Federal Gigabit Bureau (Gigabitbüro des Bundes) works as a national broadband competence centre and maintains contact with the broadband competence centres of the federal states.
At the state level, the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (KJM)), part of the state media authorities, verifies whether digital/media content disseminated by private-sector radio and Telemedia violates the Inter-State Agreement on Youth Protection in the Media (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (JMStV)) and where necessary decides to sanction such content.
Set up by the Federal Government and the Länder, the Council for Information Infrastructure (Rat für Informationsinfrastrukturen) acts as a superordinate coordinating and advisory committee to support the science and research information digital infrastructure.
In cooperation with the kinderrechte.digital (Child Protection and Child's rights) Project, which operates at the international level, the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk e.V (DKHW) sensitises and networks technically relevant actors in the field of media policy, media studies and media education to the child rights implications of the topic. The coordination body at the national level is pushing ahead with the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with a view to the digitisation of the living environments of children and adolescents.
At the federal level, schools have no specific responsibilities concerning particular devices, such as mobile phones or tablets, defined in current laws and policies. However, at the state level, such responsibilities exist. For instance, the Use of Social Networks in Schools (Der Einsatz von Sozialen Netzwerken an Schulen) Handout of the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Unterricht und Kultus) advises teachers not to use social networks for official communication with students or their parents, to organise school working groups or to use the chat function to exchange information about official matters with colleagues. The Use of Social Networks in Schools (Der Einsatz von Sozialen Netzwerken an Schulen) Handout, also expressly states that social networks may be used in the classroom to process and reflect on the functionality, advantages, disadvantages, risks, etc., in a media-pedagogical manner.
This profile has been reviewed by the German authorities.