Facebook & Co: Fight for the last word
Victims of insults and calumnies are to be able to defend themselves if they are attacked on Facebook or Twitter. The federal government has decided today to draft the bill.
In theory, everything is clear: the protection of citizens against unlawful attacks should also apply in social networks. It is true that a company like Facebook can not be held responsible for everything that its 28 million users in Germany say on their accounts. But the law requires: If network operators are aware of legal violations, they must delete or block the corresponding utterances.But the practice shows: It does not work. Attackers hide behind pseudonyms – and the networks are not responding adequately to complaints. Global players like Facebook and Twitter find it difficult to adapt to the very different legal systems of over 150 countries in which they are active. And so they prefer their own laws, the so-called “community standards”. In Facebook, for example, this means: pictures of works of art on which naked bosoms are to be seen are blocked – slander, however, punishable under German law, can be subpoena deleted messages distributed widely unhindered.
Fines up to five million euros
The government coalition wants to change that. International networks are also supposed to adhere to German law if they are active in Germany. Even before the summer break, the Union and the SPD want to adopt a “law to improve the enforcement of law in social networks”. They want the companies to:
– immediate examination of complaints
– the blocking of manifest unlawful statements within 24 hours
– Name of a contact person in Germany for authority and courts
The proposed legal text comes without vague terms like “hate speech” or “fake news”. It is about offenses that are clearly defined in the Criminal Code: such as incitement to the people, insults, defamation or dissemination of anti-propaganda propaganda.
To deal with complaints about this, the networks should regularly review and publish reports. In the event of an infringement, fines amount to up to five million euros.
Pseudonyms protect infringers
The draft law does not go far enough to the German Judiciary. It is a step forward if the company is required in the future to be reachable via an address in Germany. However, that provision could be disregarded without success, since a breach is not punishable by fines. In addition, there is a lack of time within which the networks must respond to inquiries from the police and the public prosecutor. Criminals could thus hide further behind pseudonyms.
Judges also want a better legal protection for victims of false declarations, who want to defend themselves under civil law – without the involvement of a prosecutor legal issues. The background: Anyone who is attacked with false allegations in the newspaper or on television can assert claims against the court in the area of representation, rectification or omission. Against false representations in social networks, comparable steps are often not possible because companies do not publish law enforcement their information on the authors of the utterances. Here is missing a clear demand claim, criticizes the Richterbund.
Private of justice?
Against such claims, the advocates of strict anonymity turn to the Internet. They fear that the free speech is in danger if one has to reckon with being legally held responsible for his utterances. Critical industry associations such as Bitcom and Eco also see the planned regulations for the enforcement of deletion obligations of the networks. These would then, for the sake of precaution, delete or block everything which might be unlawful. Even among members of the government of the same party, there are different tendencies here: Minister of the Economy Brigitte Zypries (SPD) warns of “extending the responsibility of the platform operators so as to equal privatization of the law enforcement.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has sent his bill to Brussels for the so-called “notification”. This means that the EU Commission has until 27 June to examine the compatibility with the European Law. If it takes this time, the time will be short for the planned farewell. Because it has to go before the summer break over the stage, if from the current law draft still something to be. By the end of the legislature(search warrant people), all the legislative plans are no longer valid; In the newly elected Bundestag, the entire procedure would have to start again.