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Ecommerce, privacy and data protection in Germany are regulated by different laws, which will be presented in the information below. It will include also law information of consumer protection, digital signature, custom and duties.
Privacy and Data Protection
Data protection in Germany is governed by various laws and regulations on the federal and state level. If personal data is being processed by a private entity or the federal public sector, the federal legislation, in particular the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz – BDSG), applies. Germany transposed the European Data Protection Directive 95/46 into national legislation which came into force on 23 May 2001. Until now, Directive 2009/136/EC which, inter alia, contains provisions that are relevant for the use of “cookies” has not yet been transposed into German law. In addition, there are data protection regulations that apply to specific areas and that are contained in special laws which take precedence over general legislation. Examples include the German Banking Act (Kreditwesengesetz – KWG) and the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act (Geldwäschegesetz – GwG), the Telemedia Act (Telemediengesetz – TMG) and the Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz – TKG).
In Germany, various laws contain regulations that deal with consumer protection in the context of Ecommerce. In particular, the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB) as well as the Introductory Law to the Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum BürgerlichenGesetzbuch – EGBGB) transposes the European Directives on distance selling and distant selling of financial products into German law. On June 13, 2014, the Law implementing the Directive on Consumer Rights (2011/83/EC) came into effect, amending several provisions of the German Civil Code and the Introductory Law to the Civil Code.
The Unfair Competition Act (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb – UWG) includes rules on advertising while the Regulation on Price Quotations (Preisangabenverordnung – PAngV) regulates labeling and price indication.
Digital Signatures and Authentication
In 2001, the Law governing Framework Conditions for Electronic Signatures (Signaturgesetz – SiG) came into effect, transposing most of the regulations contained in the European Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC into German law. In addition, the German Civil Code and the Regulation on Signatures (Signaturverordnung – SiGV) also include provisions that govern the use of electronic signatures.
Custom and Duties
If goods are imported from outside the EU, import duties may become due based on the tariff classification, customs value and origin of the goods. The customs/VAT warehousing procedure allows the storage of goods without such goods being subject to import duties (neither VAT nor customs duties are due).
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