§ 5 of the Telemediengesetz (German) lists what, for instance, website providers have to include in the typically called Impressum of the website.

The second sentence of (1) is:

Angaben, die eine schnelle elektronische Kontaktaufnahme und unmittelbare Kommunikation mit ihnen ermöglichen, einschließlich der Adresse der elektronischen Post,

Which according to cgerli.org (PDF) translates to:

details which permit rapid electronic contact and direct communication with them, including the electronic mail address,

Does the term elektronische Post (which translates to electronic mail) necessarily mean email (via SMTP)?

Of course one would immediately think of email (and some might use this term as synonym for "E-Mail", but it’s not really idiomatic), but then why doesn’t it say "E-Mail" or "SMTP"?
Because it doesn’t explicitly say so, my assumption is that it doesn’t have to be an email address, but just some address that allows to communicate electronically. Like a term for a category of communication protocols (i.e., protocols which allow to send messages in electronic form) instead of refering to the specific SMTP. (Which would make sense, because email might lose popularity, and then the law wouldn’t have to be updated.)

So, must it be an email address (RFC 6068) or may it be an address for a different protocol that allows to send/receive messages in the Internet?

  • 1
    I am afraid the answer will be that the judge will have to decide this when it should come to a lawsuit. (Of course, this may already have happened.)
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 27, 2015 at 19:47
  • I had a comment but deleted. The english version says email or phone, but that phrase translates (in my pocket translator (idk how reliable))Elektronische Post n. [includes concepts related to information transfers from one computer to another over a network] E-Mail, e-Mail, email, E-mail, elektronische Post n. (computer science) a system of world-wide electronic communication in which a computer user can compose a message at one terminal that can be regenerated at the recipient's terminal when the recipient logs in; "you cannot send packages by electronic mail"
    – gracey209
    Sep 27, 2015 at 21:49
  • So that certainly seems like any direct messaging
    – gracey209
    Sep 27, 2015 at 21:49
  • I suspect that each "protocol that allows to send/receive messages in the Internet" would have to be considered separately to determine whether it satisfies the "elektronische Post" requirement. Do you have an example of such a protocol?
    – phoog
    Sep 30, 2015 at 16:55
  • @phoog: I tried to stay away from giving an example, because I don’t want to know if a specific protocol would be appropriate, but if it would be possible at all to use something different than email (even if no appropriate protocol exists today). If we come to the conclusion that it would be possible, I think a separate question could discuss if a specific protocol satisfies the requirement. -- An example for such a protocol could be XMPP, which shares central characteristics with email (standardized, open, decentralized).
    – unor
    Sep 30, 2015 at 17:11

1 Answer 1


This question was content of a judgement: KG · Urteil vom 7. Mai 2013 · Az. 5 U 32/12

The First maxim is important:

Die nach § 5 Abs. 1 Nr. 2 TMG bestehende Pflicht zur Angabe der "Adresse der elektronischen Post" meint die Angabe der E-Mail-Anschrift.


The existing duty for the indication of the "address of electronic mail" (or like your translation: electronic mail address) according to § 5 Abs. 1 Nr. 2 TMG means the E-Mail-Address.

So the answer is YES.

  • The answer is yes given the current available options for electronic communication, but the question seems to be asking for the more general answer, considering whether hypothetical future methods of communication might qualify. If so, the answer would be no, andI rather suspect that is the case, which is why the law was written as it was.
    – phoog
    Mar 6, 2016 at 3:53
  • @phoog: That the answer might be "no" if there’s a suitable new protocol, do you base this on the linked verdict, or why do you think that? I have the impression that their use of term "E-Mail" does not necessarily mean SMTP, i.e., that they use it as synonym for electronic communication, because they say "Eine Telefonnummer ist keine E-Mail-Anschrift" (a telephone number is not an email address), which is … well, pretty obvious. In that sense, the sentence "Das ist die E-Mail-Anschrift." would not necessarily mean the SMTP protocol. -- Is it that?
    – unor
    Mar 6, 2016 at 4:14
  • 1
    @unor no, it's just this: the court's findings are made in the context of present reality. If that reality changes, the findings might change.
    – phoog
    Mar 7, 2016 at 6:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .