Websites and databases

A website is by far the most common form of database, which is defined by the Constitution as a coherent product published online. Smartphone apps can also be databases.

You do not need a licence to set up a website, but there are different levels of protection under the Constitution depending on whether you are a private individual or a mass media company. The websites of mass media companies are automatically protected by the Constitution, while as a private individual, your website is not. However, you can choose to apply for a  certificate of no legal impediment to publication (publication certificate) in order to obtain the same constitutional protection as mass media companies.

Websites and databases covered by automatic constitutional protection must be registered with us. Several criteria must be met in order to be covered by automatic constitutional protection. One of the basic criteria states that you must be a mass media company according to the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.

For mass media

If you are a mass media company operating a website covered by automatic constitutional protection, you must register the website with us. You must meet certain criteria to be considered a mass medium.

The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression defines a mass media company as:

  • Editorial office of a printed periodical
  • Editorial office for radio and television
  • Printing house
  • Book and music publishing
  • News agencies

We do not assess whether the database has automatic constitutional protection; as the party providing notification, you have to make that assessment for yourself.

Facts - Automatic Constitutional Protection

For a database (such as a website or app) to be covered by constitutional protection, the following is required:

  • The website has to be accessible to the public
  • Visitors themselves actively look up a website
  • The website is well defined and appears to be a coherent product on account of consistent design, for example
  • The content cannot be changed by anyone other than the editorial staff

Discussion forums and comments on articles that are not moderated in advance are not covered by constitutional protection and must be separated from the rest of the website.