Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

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logo bundesgerichtshofGermany’s highest court last week upheld legislation that offers Wi-Fi operators immunity from acts carried out by third-party users.

The decision by the Federal Court of Justice now makes it easier for individuals and businesses to offer Wi-Fi without fearing civil prosecution for acts of copyright infringement committed by others.

Prior to the ruling, because of the legal concept known as Störerhaftung, or interferer’s liability, a third party who played no deliberate part in someone else’s actions could be held responsible for them. As a result, Wi-Fi hot spots are few and far between in Germany. Visitors from abroad have found themselves shut out at public venues and unable to access the web like they could in other countries.

Copyright holders are still able to get court orders requiring WiFi providers to block copyright infringing websites.

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governmet germany logoA German law requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove reported hate speech without enough time to consider the merits of the report is set to be revised following criticism that too much online content is being blocked.The law, called NetzDG for short, is an international test case and how it plays out is being closely watched by other countries considering similar measures.

German politicians forming a new government told Reuters they want to add an amendment to help web users get incorrectly deleted material restored online.

The lawmakers are also pushing for social media firms to set up an independent body to review and respond to reports of offensive content from the public, rather than leaving to the social media companies who by definition care more about profits than supporting free speech.

Such a system, similar to how video games are policed in Germany, could allow a more considered approach to complex decisions about whether to block content, legal experts say.

Facebook, which says it has 1,200 people in Germany working on reviewing posts out of 14,000 globally responsible for moderating content and account security, said it was not pursuing a strategy to delete more than necessary. Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for EMEA public policy said:

People think deleting illegal content is easy but it’s not. Facebook reviews every NetzDG report carefully and with legal expertise, where appropriate. When our legal experts advise us, we follow their assessment so we can meet our obligations under the law.

Johannes Ferchner, spokesman on justice and consumer protection for the Social Democrats and one of the architects of the law said:

We will add a provision so that users have a legal possibility to have unjustly deleted content restored.

Thomas Jarzombek, a Christian Democrat who helped refine the law, said the separate body to review complaints should be established, adding that social media companies were deleting too much online content. NetzDG already allows for such a self-regulatory body, but companies have chosen to go their own way instead. According to the coalition agreement, both parties want to develop the law to encourage the establishment of such a body.

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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.