Germany Gives Social Networks 24 Hours to Delete Criminal Content

Zarathustra[H]

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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 €5M fine, and the social network itself a €50M fine. The bill also requires the social media to unmask the poster of any content found to be illegal.

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 – and the rest of us – without recourse against many potential sources of defamation and hate speech
 
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Zarathustra[H]

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I have a few thoughts about this that are my own and not reflective of HardOCP's opinions, so I didn't want to post them on the front page.

They are as follows:

1.) I'm not convinced that what they are asking is even possible. When you operate what essentially is a bulletin board with 2 billion members, it seems impossible to police it to this level. I mean, just look at how many moderators it takes to keep us fuckers in order on this site :p Social media networks depend on ad revenue in order to make their money. This necessitates a huge ratio between staff to user ratio, or it simply doesn't work financially. This level of user policing is going to require a lot of people, as we have all seen how well heuristic algorithms do at this task. It's almost as if this legislation is a thinly veiled attack on an industry dominated by non-European companies. There almost seems to be no other explanation for this level of complete and total lack of understanding for how an industry works. They must be intentionally TRYING to kill foreign social media companies presence in Europe.

2.) This ought to be extremely chilling on a free speech level. How can Europe criticism Erdogan and Turkey for persecuting social media users they disagree with, when they are doing shit like this? I'm not anti-european by any means. I spent 16 years in Europe, and I like it there, but more and more I am being turned off by their inclination to bludgeon free speech like some sort of futuristic sci-fi dystopia

3.) Since when is it a crime to insult someone? If people cant take an insult, they should just give up, go die and bury themselves already.
 

mat9v

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I have a question, who is supposed to find out and decide that content is insulting, slanderous and so on? I do hope it is some legal body in due proces because I can call almost anything "publicly prosecuting my opinion". If it is a legal order from jury then ok but I guess that it would put a very big stress on relevant bodies (judges) to judge probably thousands of complains a day?
...social media companies designate a complaints handler subject to local law
- does that mean that such handler must judge if complaint is "correct"? or is "he" just an executor of complainer will to have such content removed?
Strange....
 

Ducman69

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The specific inclusion of "insults" is what upsets me the most. I guess Europeans really don't give a shit about free speech.
They haven't had free speech in a long time, and have used intimidation and a form of excommunication for those that speak out of line.

Swedish capital was hit with another Islamist truck attack into a crowd of people, and none of my German relatives had heard of it, nor earlier this week's Islamist terrorist attack in Russia, as they aren't online much. But even that new-media online bastion of information is being attacked hardcore by the EU powers.

The EU information control is reaching 1984 levels, which is ironic since apparently they are airing the film all over liberal locations in protest of Trump, a guy who if anything releases too much information tweeting any thought that pops into his head while spearheading a campaign against the deep state and their illegal surveillance.
This level of user policing is going to require a lot of people, as we have all seen how well heuristic algorithms do at this task. It's almost as if this legislation is a thinly veiled attack on an industry dominated by non-European companies. There almost seems to be no other explanation for this level of complete and total lack of understanding for how an industry works. They must be intentionally TRYING to kill foreign social media companies presence in Europe.
A combination win-win scenario for the EU, no matter the outcome.

Kill, or at least drastically reduce the influence of, new media to support old media, over which they have control. Or, if new media complies, they can gain control as well. How can they comply though, since you indicate its impossible? Sure, it is for paid staff, but there are overweight blue-haired unemployed online bullies that would love nothing more than to be empowered to censor their fellow man. It would be impossible to police the police of course, but an army of SJWs working for free along with a user flagging system (or automated through keyword results) for controversial posts would be self-sustaining and cost almost nothing.

For example, either a post is autoflagged for having controversial words or gets thumbs down, and that flags it for review from Berta. Berta looks at it and sees it says "Syria's gas attack is a false flag operation by Soros-linked white hats operation with ties to ISIS" and decides this is toxic and must be purged. Voila.
 
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SomeoneElse

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This is censorship in its grandest form. "Insults".....are you kidding me? Might as well shut down Facebook and twitter RIGHT NOW because people insult each other all. the. time. over silly believes and calling someone an idiot is mild to some of the stuff lately.......I mean how do you even enforce this policy? Whats the line, so to speak, to an insult?
 

ruffbytes

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Is [H] considered a social network?

Fuck you all!

Someone complain about me so we can see if Kyle receives a letter.
 

Ducman69

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This is censorship in its grandest form. "Insults".....are you kidding me? Might as well shut down Facebook and twitter RIGHT NOW because people insult each other all. the. time. over silly believes and calling someone an idiot is mild to some of the stuff lately.......I mean how do you even enforce this policy? Whats the line, so to speak, to an insult?
That's what's beautiful about it. It can be selectively enforced at will, depending on who is the insulter and who is being insulted. Milo for example was banned for insulting Leslie Jones, when people went through her history and saw she has a history of insulting and making racist remarks. And they even allowed #rapemelania to trend without taking action, while killing other trends like #DNCleaks as "illegal".

Canada has already leaped in as well, and recently passed a motion M-103 on March 24th against criticism of Islam online, essentially an Islamic blasphemy law disguised as political correctness and tolerance introduced by one of their Muslim representatives Iqra Khalid:
Designed to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination, the commission’s president explained that he planned to use the powers to sue those critical of certain ideas, “people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page.”
Personally, I believe in the freedom to offend, as that's how in an open and free society you challenge ideas with better ones and advance as an enlightened civilization. This walking on eggshells and censorship of anything controversial serves only to preserve the status quo.
 
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dgz

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This is rich coming from the people who approved the patriot act.

I'd be willing to support some censoring when it comes to “insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats.”
 

Galvin

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Next it will become a law that if you insult someone in public and someone records you, you can take it to the police and get that person fined.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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This is rich coming from the people who approved the patriot act.

I'd be willing to support some censoring when it comes to “insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats.”


Patriot act? You do realize the article is talking about Germany, yes?
 

dgz

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Yes, I do. I was addressing your complaints about free speech.

I do hope this is a piece of uninformed/misleading reporting as banning insults would certainly not end well
 

alamox

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these are the kind of laws that do more harm than good, just a broad description that invites unjustice and abuse.
 

JosiahBradley

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The dark ages are back with a vengeance this century. I dub them the Dark Ages 2. Real original that these new round of idiots might get.
 

lcpiper

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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 €5M fine, and the social network itself a €50M fine. The bill also requires the social media to unmask the poster of any content found to be illegal.

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 – and the rest of us – without recourse against many potential sources of defamation and hate speech

So I'll take that job with Facebook over in Germany. Of course if I risk 5M Euros in fines for every instance, my paycheck better be one nice fucking stack of bills.

Or, I get paid in a manner that can't be taken and I spend all my life bankrupt knowing that when I decide to retire I have a nice time ahead of me. For that, I'll carry the shit ball.
 

lcpiper

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The bill also requires the social media to unmask the poster of any content found to be illegal.

I see a really big catch 22 here .... Don't Germany and others make it really criminal to "unmask" minors?

Law says I have to post this kid's name.

Law says I can't post a kid's name.
 

RaxusCraxurFace

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This is rich coming from the people who approved the patriot act.

I'd be willing to support some censoring when it comes to “insults, libel, slander, public prosecutions, crimes, and threats.”

Not in the US

Libel, and slander laws can be dangerous. Lets say citizen journalists get a big tip in the way of someone like Sandusky. The citizen journalist goes public hoping for justice. Sandusky sues to squash the story claiming slander. Now a pedophile goes free and anyone else is now scared to go after him due to a lawsuit.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be any protection, but its a very fine balancing act.
 

Aireoth

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M-103 is so over blown, it was nothing much more than the government saying Islamophobia is bad, and we are making a committee to study it. Sure it might mean something after the committee, but I still have hope we (canadians) won't go completely bat shit crazy.

Still, it is disturbing to see the far left and right have such volume to their voice, extremes are always bad.
 

naib

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considering it is illegal to deny the holocaust in germany with prison time associated... i am not really surprised... The EU is imploding faster than i gave it credit
 

M76

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The specific inclusion of "insults" is what upsets me the most. I guess Europeans really don't give a shit about free speech.
Stop bundling together everyone. There is no such thing as Europeans. And I'm sure most Germans are against this bullcrap too.
 

lcpiper

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Stop bundling together everyone. There is no such thing as Europeans. And I'm sure most Germans are against this bullcrap too.

To Americans, there are only five peoples in the world;

Americans, Latins, Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Gypsies

Scientologists get an honorable mention
 

naib

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Stop bundling together everyone. There is no such thing as Europeans. And I'm sure most Germans are against this bullcrap too.
German voters are responsible though... perpetually voting in Merkel's party facilitated this and the disaster that is the "open door policy"... This year when they go to the poll's they will do exactly the same thing to perpetuate Merkel destroying germany completely
 

Zarathustra[H]

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German voters are responsible though... perpetually voting in Merkel's party facilitated this and the disaster that is the "open door policy"... This year when they go to the poll's they will do exactly the same thing to perpetuate Merkel destroying germany completely


This is tarting to get awfully close to thread lock territory.

Let's reel it in please.
 

M76

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German voters are responsible though... perpetually voting in Merkel's party facilitated this and the disaster that is the "open door policy"... This year when they go to the poll's they will do exactly the same thing to perpetuate Merkel destroying germany completely
About the same amount as US voters are responsible for anything their government does.
You can be captain hindsight but every politician is a gamble of sorts. It's doesn't happen that they'll do everything in their campaign promises and nothing else. Honestly I knew zero about German domestic politics when they voted in Merkel, so I can't say if it was foreseeable, but I guess not. All I know trough my work is that Germans and Austrians are very sensitive to personal rights. That's why they didn't allow google streetview in because they feared that their house would be visible to anyone. So I don't see that they would be OK with posters being identified on social media. Protection of their personal rights was a big sales pitch at their last local election cycle.
 

Chupachup

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these are the kind of laws that do more harm than good, just a broad description that invites injustice and abuse.

Who do they expect will avail themselves to the position of Complaint Handler? :ROFLMAO:

IANAL, however, it seems the broad and undefined description will have the social media powerhouses actively seeking a more refined definition in court.

The likes of Facebook, Google, etc., will state they are not a law enforcement entity or a court of law and should not be making binding decisions that could potentially violate another person's/entity's rights in the process of maintaining this new mandate. It should be for an actual court to decide the truth, reality and veracity, of statements made online and off and whether they deserve prosecution or protection. It's with the court's finding that the claimant can request social media sources to remove the offending content or account.

To my knowledge, it's still possible for someone to sue for libel, slander, crimes and threats in the E.U. states. As for insults and "public prosecutions", i.e., harsh opinions, those individuals need to get a thicker skin and stop putting themselves in that position. All in all, this law is redundant and ridiculously unenforceable.

Tinfoil hat in place and propeller spinning- As this law is so overwhelmingly broad, it does seem these laws are popping up to cover up the corruption, controversies and inactions, of government officials as much as to inundate social networks with an all but impossible task that makes them a government enforcer without any real legal standing or protections.
 

lcpiper

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Who do they expect will avail themselves to the position of Complaint Handler? :ROFLMAO:

IANAL, however, it seems the broad and undefined description will have the social media powerhouses actively seeking a more refined definition in court.

The likes of Facebook, Google, etc., will state they are not a law enforcement entity or a court of law and should not be making binding decisions that could potentially violate another person's/entity's rights in the process of maintaining this new mandate. It should be for an actual court to decide the truth, reality and veracity, of statements made online and off and whether they deserve prosecution or protection. It's with the court's finding that the claimant can request social media sources to remove the offending content or account.

To my knowledge, it's still possible for someone to sue for libel, slander, crimes and threats in the E.U. states. As for insults and "public prosecutions", i.e., harsh opinions, those individuals need to get a thicker skin and stop putting themselves in that position. All in all, this law is redundant and ridiculously unenforceable.

Tinfoil hat in place and propeller spinning- As this law is so overwhelmingly broad, it does seem these laws are popping up to cover up the corruption, controversies and inactions, of government officials as much as to inundate social networks with an all but impossible task that makes them a government enforcer without any real legal standing or protections.


Well, in the US the first thing that would come up would be the very valid question, "Who are you to tell me I have to create a job position so that I can enforce your laws?" "How about you create a new government department and I'll offer you a chair to sit his ass in and your man can police content on my servers. And hell yes well be watching him."
 

Patriot

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Stop bundling together everyone. There is no such thing as Europeans. And I'm sure most Germans are against this bullcrap too.
To be fair... Europeans bundled themselves together when they made the EU...
 

naib

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To be fair... Europeans bundled themselves together when they made the EU...
Less than 0.00001% of Europeans ( ie roughly 8000 politicians...) voted on the creation of the EU.
The original plan was a constitution of EU requiring referendums in all states. Ireland had a referendum and rejected it. The EU told them to vote again... polls were showing France was going to reject it .... The Beurotards in Brussels then went the route of treaties as they would only need acceptance from the local governments NOT the will of the people.

It was formed by the elite for the elite just like the Euro...
 

M76

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To be fair... Europeans bundled themselves together when they made the EU...
Do you even know that the EU doesn't cover all of Europe? Also it's an economical organization, not an actual union of countries, all member states retain their sovereign state.
 

Krazy925

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krotch

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I wonder if large companies like Facebook can just bounce it back at them. "For us to properly enforce our site, we will need the local law enforcement of said country to provide us with legal documentation on each specific case and what laws it breaks. We will be more than happy to accommodate and remove the content deemed illegal."

Social media sites already police their site. Some to the best of their abilities and what is possible on whatever their budget it. If these governments want them to go above and beyond, make them the work horse. Not the site maintainer. Now if they have the site isn't even bothering to police their site, then that's a whole different matter.
 
D

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Without getting into the steep slope if censorship this looks like, I will say one thing:

Now if only government worked, or was held to the same strict time tables.
 
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