Court (Correctly) Says Germany’s Social Media Censorship Law Goes Too Far


from the a-bit-of-sanity dept

Remember NetzDG? This is the German content moderation law that has been a complete disaster from day one. It puts all sorts of requirements on social media companies to remove undesirable content in a very short period of time. Other countries, like Turkey, have used it as inspiration to pass their own laws to censor critics of the government. Despite all the problems with it, Germany recently expanded the law’s coverage, so that platforms wouldn’t just have to block content, but they would have to proactively report “hate speech” to law enforcement. It was such a bad idea that even the UN’s Human Rights Committee said this was a terrible idea.

The big social media company went to court in Germany to try to block the new provisions from going into effect, and a German court has now ruled in their favor, saying that the law violates wider EU law. It appears that the ruling is somewhat technical (as seems to always be the case with German court rulings). Of course, German court rulings are also quite narrow in their precedent, meaning that in this case, only Meta and Google (the two parties who challenge the law and were ruled on in this ruling) are impacted and it doesn’t invalidate the overall law.

Apparently, Twitter and TikTok have also sued over this law, but those rulings have not yet come down.

Either way, it would be nice for Germany to recognize that this law has been a total disaster, rather than trying to expand it. You don’t deal with online content you don’t like by (1) deputizing private companies to enforce opaque censorship standards, and (2) you also don’t force them to hand over data to the police without evidence of any actual crime. Of all places in the world, you would think that Germany would understand the dangers here, but apparently not.

Filed Under: censorship, content moderation, germany, hate speech, netzdg

Companies: facebook, google, meta, tiktok, twitter


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