Germany’s Interior and Justice Ministries on Wednesday announced a new strategy that includes enhancing protection for political figures, more restrictive gun laws, and a law compelling service providers to report social media criminal content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to name a few, Deutsche Welle reported.
The new legislative package calls for the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, to take a more prominent role in monitoring and prosecuting hate online.
Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (Social Democratic Party) said the German government “is confronting right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism by all means enabled by the rule of law,” blaming the disinhibition and unleashing of hatred online for the rise in hate-based violence in Germany.
Indeed, the announcement about the upcoming legislation cites the June murder of pro-refugee regional official Walter Lübcke, who was gunned down at home by a far-right assailant; and the fact that the suspect in the Yom Kippur Halle synagogue attack, Stephan B., was a frequent visitor to websites offering anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
According to the proposed package, online service providers Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the rest of them would be compelled to report hate speech to the German authorities, and surrender the IP address of conspicuous users. Currently, social media providers are only required to delete hate speech.
Germany’s opposition parties or the most part objected to the legislative initiative because it is too feeble (and you thought they would say it endangers the country’s democratic principles – didn’t you…). A spokesman for the Green Party argued the law deals “very mildly” with the big social networks, insisting that financial penalties for not reporting and deleting hate speech should be in the “high tens and hundreds of millions.”
“Otherwise you won’t be able to hold these companies to account,” the Greens’ spokesman said. “This is the only lever you can use to deal with corporations that follow an economic, stock company logic.”
Naturally, he had nothing to say about the drawbacks of the various online monitoring systems which are run by robots who lack the capacity to detect nuance, and, most unfortunately, irony, sarcasm and all other aspects of humor.
On second thought, though, why would a German monitoring system need to understand humor?