Friday April 07, 2017

Germany Gives Social Networks 24 Hours to Delete Criminal Content

As we have reported on before, the EU has been stepping up its attempt to force social media networks to take down criminal content more quickly. The German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection has announced that a bill to strengthen these protections has been approved in Cabinet. This bill requires that social media companies designate a complaints handler subject to local law, responsible for receiving complaints related to "insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats," track their status, and report back to the complaining party with the status of the complaint.

Here's the kicker, if the content is found to be "insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats," and is not taken down within 24 hours, the complaint handler can be subject to a آ€5M fine, and the social network itself a آ€50M fine. The bill also requires the social media to unmask the poster of any content found to be illegal.

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Left un-explained, however, is how Germany proposes to enforce the bill. Large social networks that sell ads may well have presences in Germany and will find it easy to appoint a complaints officer. Other, smaller, social networks have no local presence and are also less likely to curb hate speech and defamation. Indeed, the attraction of some smaller social networks is that they have less regulation than larger rivals, leaving Germans آ– and the rest of us آ– without recourse against many potential sources of defamation and hate speech