Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

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fdp logoGermany’s NetzDG internet censorship law has been in force since the New Year and has already sparked multiple controversies. Opposition parties across the political spectrum already say its time for change.

Senior figures in the rival Free Democratic (FDP), Green and Left parties on Sunday demanded lawmakers replace Germany’s recently passed online hate speech law. The call comes after Twitter decided to delete allegedly offensive statements by far-right politicians and suspend the account of a German satirical magazine.

The last few days have emphatically shown that private companies cannot correctly determine whether a questionable online statement is illegal, satirical or tasteless yet still democratically legitimate, the FDP’s general secretary Nicola Beer told Germany weekly Die Welt am Sonntag .

Beer said Germany needed a law similar to the one the FDP proposed before Christmas that would give an appropriately endowed authority the right to enforce the rule of law online rather than give private companies the right to determine the illegality of flagged content.

Green Party Chairwoman Simone Peter has also called for a replacement law that would take away the right of private companies to make decisions regarding flagged content. He said:

It is not acceptable for US companies such as Twitter to influence freedom of expression or press freedoms in Germany. Last year, we proposed a clear legal alternative that would hold platforms such as Twitter accountable without making them judges.

Greens’ internet policy spokesman, Konstantin von Notz, also criticized the current statute, telling the newspaper that the need for reform the law was overdue.

Left leader Sarah Wagenknecht added:

The law is a slap in the face of all democratic principles because, in a constitutional state, courts rather than private companies make decisions about what is lawful and what is not.

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banned titanic tweetThe Twitter account of German satirical magazine Titanic was blocked after it parodied anti-Muslim comments by AfD MP Beatrix von Storch.She accused police of trying to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men by putting out a tweet in Arabic.

On Tuesday night, the magazine published a tweet parodying von Storch, saying:

The last thing that I want is mollified barbarian, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men.

Titanic said on Wednesday its Twitter account had been blocked over the message, presumably as a result of a new law requiring social media sites to immediately block hateful comments on threat of massive fines. There is no time allowed or economic reason for assessing the merits of censorship claims, so social media companies are just censoring everything on demand, just in case.

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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.