Germany implements new internet hate speech crackdown
A new German law named NetzDG that will force social media sites to delete offensive content has come into effect with the New Year. There are plenty of critics on both the far-right and among internet activists.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google will need to get used to new rules in Germany from Monday, as a new law comes into effect designed to clamp down on hate speech and illegal content on the internet.
January 1 marks the end of the transitional period of the “network enforcement law” (NetzDG), which forces any internet platform with more than 2 million users to implement more efficient and effective ways to report and delete potentially illegal content. Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram will all come under the new law, though professional networks like LinkedIn and Xing are expressly excluded, as are messaging services like WhatsApp.
Reporters without Borders and other critics spoke of a “rush job” that “could massively damage the basic right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression”. Decisions on the legality of contributions would be privatised. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion criticized the planned law as endangering human rights. At a hearing in the Bundestag, almost all experts considered the draft unconstitutional. On January 1, 2018, the transitional period within which companies had to adjust to the requirements of the NetzDG expired.