Archive | Germany

Consequences of Germanys social media censorship

Even accepting that free speech ends where criminal law begins, that doesn’t justify fining the platforms. If people are posting “illegal” content, go after them for breaking the law. Don’t go after the tools they use. By putting massive liability risks on platforms, those platforms will almost certainly overcompensate and over censor to avoid any risk of liability. That means a tremendous amount of what should be protected speech gets silence, just because these companies don’t want to get fined. Even worse, the big platforms can maybe hire people to handle this. The littler platforms? They basically can’t risk operating in Germany any more. Berlin is a hotbed of startups, but this is going to seriously harm many of them.

Techdirt » Germany Officially Gives Up On Free Speech: Will Fine Internet Companies That Don’t Delete ‘Bad’ Speech »


The German »Staatstrojaner« mission creep

A new law allowing the German police to hack into mobile phones for even minor crimes, is expected to be passed by the German parliament this week [update: the law has now been passed]. Currently, the use of a “Staatstrojaner” – government trojan – is only permitted in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. Under the new law, the authorities will be allowed to implant surveillance malware to help secure convictions for over 70 types of crime. These include serious ones such as genocide, treason and murder, but also less serious crimes such as money counterfeiting, vehicle theft, computer fraud, rigged sports betting and tax evasion. Two kinds of trojans will be available. The first allows the authorities to eavesdrop on calls made with the mobile phone, whether using standard telephony or VoIP, while the second gives access to all information held on the device.

Glyn Moody on PNI: Police use of trojans to hack into mobile phones will become routine under new German law »


Copyright vs. freedom of the arts, freedom of the press and freedom of information

• What role the rights granted by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union plays: in particular, what is the relationship between copyright protection (Article 17(2)) and freedom of the arts (Article 13)?

• (C)can copyright protection be trumped by the need to safeguard freedom of the press and freedom of information? Or can fundamental rights be even directly invoked to prevent enforcement of copyright?

These two – rather fundamental – questions have been sent to the European Court of Justice from Germanys supreme court, undesgerichtshof (BGH).

Techdirt » Two Big Copyright Cases Sent To Top EU Court: One On Sampling, The Other On Freedom Of The Press »


Open letter to the EU on German »NetzDG «

This bill asks social media companies to take down content, including perfectly legal material, that social media companies like Facebook can arbitrarily label as “hate speech”, “fake news”, “pornographic content”, among other categories. In addition, the draft law de facto imposes filtering of content, despite the fact that such technology cannot understand context and will, therefore, inevitably lead to still more legal content being deleted. The basic aim of the bill is, of course, well-intentioned. However, the way this bill is drafted appoints social media companies as arbiters of legality and “the truth”. Furthermore, this bill breaches EU law, which establishes that all restrictions to fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, must be provided for by law, necessary and proportionate (Article 52 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). In addition, EU law also prohibits imposing general monitoring obligations on companies. If adopted, this unprecedented law would serve as a bad example for other states, including countries with serious democratic deficits.

EDRi » EU action needed: German NetzDG draft threatens freedom of expression »


German social media law under fire

Professor Schulz criticises the fact that the draft law covers a range of different types of offences, making it difficult to assess its necessity as a means of restricting freedom of speech. More damningly, he points to the key assumptions on which the law is based, arguing that they have been abandoned “for a long time”. Furthermore, he argues that “there are many effective ways of addressing fake news or hateful speech” that should be [implicitly, were not] taken into account to minimise potential negative effects on freedom of speech”.

EDRi: German Social Media law – sharp criticism from leading legal expert »

GNI: Proposed German Legislation Threatens Free Expression Around the World »


German law limiting »WiFi liability« approved

Germany has approved a draft law that will enable businesses to run open WiFi hotspots without being held liable for the copyright infringements of their customers. Copyright holders will still have the ability to request that certain sites are blocked to prevent repeat infringement.

Torrentfreak: Germany Approves Draft Law to Protect WiFi Operators From Piracy Liability »


Freedom of expression under attack in Germany

Minister Maas has proposed the law which places a variety of obligations on the companies, in the apparent hope that this will lead profit-motivated companies to take over private censorship measures. Following years of deletions of perfectly legal content by, for example, Facebook, Minister Maas seems to believe that this will lead to outcomes that are appropriate in a democratic society based on the rule of law. (…)

Another addition to the draft law is a procedure to prohibit the distribution of pornography. The effects on group chats, such as WhatsApp which might also be affected by the law, depending on the scope, will be interesting as partially public exchanges of legal content such as pornography would suddenly become the focus of deletions. (…)

In total, 24 criminal offences have been added to the latest draft, including counterfeiting and fake news for the purpose of treason against the nation, defamation of the state and its symbols, as well as insults to the Federal President.

EDRi: Reckless social media law threatens freedom of expression in Germany »

Zerohedge: Germany Passes Bill To Fine FaceBook, Twitter Up To $50MM For “Fake News” »

Related, EU Observer: Germany calls for EU laws on hate speech and fake news »


German anti hate-law announced

The past week, German government put forward its controversial bill to fight online hate speech – threatening social platforms with fines up to € 50 million.


Under the rules proposed, social media companies must clearly explain rules and complaint procedures to users and follow up on each complaint. Blatantly illegal content must be deleted within 24 hours, while other law-breaking content must be taken down or blocked within seven days.

Politico: Germany unveils law with big fines for hate speech on social media »


German court makes U-turn in Snowden case

In November the BGH ruled that Snowden should be invited to Berlin and that the government make preparations to ensure his safety, raising the intriguing possibility that Berlin would have to provide protection to one of the most wanted men in the US. But then the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats appealed the decision. (…)

(T)he court made a U-turn in a ruling published Wednesday.

The Local: Snowden won’t be invited to Germany after all »