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Germany considers new youth protection guidelines for mobile monetisation

Deliberately broad draft guidelines leave questions hanging around enforcement

New draft legislation from Germany is targeting aggressive mobile monetisation aimed at children.

Put forward by the State of Bavaria, the new youth protection guidelines (draft JuSchRiL), look to update the Interstate Treaty for the Protection of Minors (JMStV).

The deliberately broad guidelines specifically target in-app ads aimed at children that grant the user an advantage, and linking profiles with another platform.

This represents the first extensive revisions of the JuSchRiL since it was introduced in 2005.

In a blog post Sebastian Schwiddessen, associate at law firm Baker McKenzie, said the draft "clearly serves as a reaction to the ongoing loot box and monetisation debate."

The draft guidelines also target invasive monetisation models by prohibiting direct purchasing appeals towards minors which exploit their "inexperience and credulity."

Under the current wording, even games which are mainly played by adults could be subject to this if the audience also includes children.

The draft JuSchRiL reads: "An explicit appeal and a specific direction towards children and adolescents is not required."

According to Schwiddessen, the process to determine whether a purchasing appeal is directed towards minors must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

While the draft has not been enacted yet, proposed amendments to neuter it have been rejected by state media authorities.

Dissecting the challenges of enforcing such broad provisions, Schwiddessen said "only the future can tell how strictly the rules will be enforced."

"The [German Commission for the Protection of Youth in the Media] is widely considered as not being a very active enforcement body," he added.

"The greatest risk therefore lies with Germany's consumer protection associations such as the VZBV which have the benefit of extensive financial means and which have already repeatedly targeted the video gaming industry for youth protection and e-commerce matters.

"The new guideline provides a strong argument in court on how the JMStV advertisement restrictions must be interpreted and therefore a strong basis for potential cease and desist claims/injunctions."

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