Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus "Welcome to Amerika" Pack Germany has a bizarre censorship law that bans Nazi references and symbology from use in the media, presumably fearing that it may somehow stir a rebirth of the far right. One suspects that the current resurgence of the far right may be little do with media images, and is perhaps more likely to do with political leaders and their significantly unpopular policies of welcoming mass immigration.Anyway the law is the law, and the latest video game in the Wolfenstein series has had to be censored in Germany (and probably Austria too). The previous episode, Wolfenstein: The New Order was also cut in 2014 to remove Nazi references.

wolfenstein ii video Wolfenstein II: Welcome to Amerika suffers the following cuts:

  • Hitler is renamed heiler (healer)
  • My fuhrer becomes mein Kanzler (my chancellor)
  • Hitler loses his iconic moustache
  • The swastika is replaced by a stark menacing looking three-pronged symbol
  • polygon.com also speculates that an actor is shot by Hitler for being a spy rather than being jewish.
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Germany flagGermany’s new internet censorship law came into force on 1st October. The law nominally targets ‘hate speech’, but massively high penalties coupled with ridiculously short time scales allowed to consider the issues, mean that the law ensures that anything the authorities don’t like will have to be immediately censored…just in case.Passed earlier this summer, the law will financially penalize social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, if they don’t remove hate speech, as per its definition in Germany’s current criminal code within 24 hours. They will be allowed up to a week to decide for comments that don’t fall into the blatant hate speech category. The top fine for not deleting hate speech within 24 hours is 50 million euro though that would be for repeatedly breaking the law, not for individual cases.

Journalists, lawyers, and free-speech advocates have been voicing their concerns about the new law for months. They say that, to avoid fines, Facebook and others will err on the side of caution and just delete swathes of comments, including ones that are not illegal. They worry that social media platforms are being given the power to police and effectively shut down people’s right to free opinion and free speech in Germany.

The German Journalists Association (DJV) is calling on journalists and media organizations to start documenting all deletions of their posts on social media as of today. The borders of free speech must not be allowed to be drawn by profit-driven businesses, said DJV chairman Frank 3cberall in a recent statement.

Reporters Without Borders also expressed their strong opposition to the law when it was drafted in May, saying it would contribute to the trend to privatize censorship by delegating the duties of judges to commercial online platforms — as if the internet giants can replace independent and impartial courts.

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Germany flagThe German broadcasting authority, the Landesmedienanstalt , has issued a temporary ruling requiring streamers using services such as Twitch and YouTube to obtain a broadcasting license to avoid penalties. This license, known in German as the Rundfunklizenz , can cost anywhere from 1000 to 10,000 euro to obtain.

The news comes after popular Twitch streaming channel PietSmiet said it was told it will need a license by April 30 if it wants to continue streaming. The changes apply to all online streamers with a very low threshold of 500 or more followers.

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governmet germany logoGerman ministers have recently approved plans to fine technology companies if they fail to censor posts that are claimed to be hate speech or ‘fake news’.

The law introduces fines to the tune of approximately £42.7m if technology companies do not censor complalined about posts within 24 hours of it being reported (or seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases). The approval comes one month after the draft law, the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, was unveiled.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are likely to be particularly affected.

Many have raised concerns over the censorship process. The head of the Digital Society Association, Volker Tripp, said: It is the wrong approach to make social networks into a content police.

The implementation of the law will now mean that all contended posts will now be rapidly and routinely removed regardless of the voracity of the complaint. After all this is the age when complainants are always right.

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spd cdu logoLeading German MPs have called for online ‘fake news’ campaigns to be made a crime. Patrick Sensburg, a senior MP in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said:

Targeted disinformation to destabilise a state should be a criminal offence. We need to consider whether there should be some sort of ‘test site’ that reveals and identifies propaganda pages.

The call was backed by his party colleague Ansgar Heveling, the chairman of the German parliament’s influential internal affairs committee aying:

We last saw disinformation campaigns during the Cold War, now they have clearly been revived with new media opportunities. The law already offers options, such as a slander or defamation. But I think a criminal sentence is more appropriate when it is a targeted campaign.

German intelligence has warned that Russia is seeking to influence next year’s German elections via propaganda distributed via the internet, partcularly social media. Russia has been accused of deliberately using socialbots , automated software masqueraring as real people, to promote ‘fake news’ stories on social media.

Mrs Merkel’s current coalition partners and main rival in next year’s elections, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), have also called for a cross-party alliance against ‘fake news’ stories. Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD leader called for

Democratic solidarity against manipulative socialbots and an alliance against ‘fake news’.

Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel of the SPD added:

If there is any doubt about the authenticity of any information, we should refrain from attacking our political opponents with it.

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Facebook logo Germanpulse has published an interesting piece about German politicians expecting social media websites to pre-censors posts that the government doesn’t like:

We have reported on the German government’s war against social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google many times over the last year as the country tries to rid the popular sites of any signs of hate speech. While the companies have made attempts to appease government officials with stricter enforcement, each move is said to still not be enough. The question is: is Germany taking the fight too far?

Volker Kauder, a member of the CDU, spoke with Der Spiegel this week to say the time for roundtables is over. I’ve run out of patience, and argues that Facebook, Twitter and Google have failed and should pay 50,000 euro ($54,865) fines for not providing a strict level of censorship.

All major social media sites do provide tools to report hate speech offenders, but Kauder isn’t the only one to argue that the tool is ineffective.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas made a statement that only 46 percent of the comments were erased by Facebook, while a mere one percent were taken care of by Twitter.

Maas’ solution is not much different from Kauder’s, as he told Handelsblatt that the companies should face legal consequences.

…Read the full article from germanpulse.com

Der Spiegel has also published an opinion piece showing a little exasperation with trying to get comments censored by Facebook.

In June, the national body made up of justice ministers from the 16 federal states in Germany launched a legislative initiative to introduce a law which, if passed, would require operators of Internet platforms to immediately disclose the identity of users whose online actions are the subject of criminal proceedings. The law explicitly covers companies that are not based in Germany, but in fact do business here.

Justice Minister Maas must now introduce the draft law to Chancellor Merkel’s cabinet, but he’s hesitant out of fear of a backlash among a net community that still views Facebook as a symbol of Internet freedom. So far, he has done little that goes beyond appeals. If he wanted too, however, Maas could push for a further tightening of the country’s telecommunications law. All that would be needed is a clause stipulating that every Internet company that does business in Germany would be required to name one person within the firm who is a resident in the country who could be held liable under German law.

…Read the full article from spiegel.de

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Germany flag Thomas de Maiziere, Germany’s interior minister has said that Facebook should be more proactive in removing racist and violent content from its sites:

Facebook has an immensely important economic position and just like every other large enterprise it has a immensely important social responsibility.

Facebook should take down racist content or calls for violence from its pages on its own initiative even if it hasn’t yet received a complaint.

The German government has been critical of Facebook in the past as it is the main medium for people to express their discontent about the government’s refugee policies.

De Maiziere said he recognized Facebook’s efforts to develop software that can better identify outlawed content and praised its efforts to fight child pornography. He added though:

But it’s up to the company to ensure those terms are upheld. A company with a good reputation for innovation will have to earn a good reputation in this area.

Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations who now heads the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) in New York, a non-profit group that maintains a database of information about extremist groups, said about Facebook:

Of all the companies, Facebook has done the most, but they’re all just starting to recognize that the weaponization of social media platforms is not good business and not good for society.

CEP is completing testing of a new software tool that will identify new images and videos published on social media sites by Islamic State and other extremist groups, and remove them instantly wherever they occur, much as already done with child pornography images.