Melon Farmers Original Version

Internet Censorship in Germany

Germany considers state internet filtering


Government sin bin...

Germany plans to extend internet censorship to ban users it does not like from social media

Link Here 17th April 2023
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
According to the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), tech companies themselves are responsible for deleting hate speech on social media in Germany, and face up to 50 million euro in fines if they don't. But it's left to their own discretion whether or not they block the often-anonymous users behind it.

Now Germany's coalition government wants to extend censorship controls of online content that the government does not like, both by blocking users who spread censorable speech through a court order, and forcing social media companies to reveal the person or group behind a perpetrator's profile.

The length of any account block would have to be proportionate and regard serious violations -- yet it would be left to the respective court to decide what exactly that means. An account holder must first be informed that their account could be blocked -- and have the chance to comment on the incident.



Uncontactable messaging app...

Germany fines Telegram for not complying with censorship requirements

Link Here 23rd October 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany has fined the messaging app Telegram $5 million for refusing to comply with German censorship orders.

The Federal Office of Justice claimed that the messaging platform has refused to create a way for users to report illegal content or established a physical office where complaints can be filed, as required by German laws governing social media platforms.

German authorities added that their attempts to contact Telegram executives in the United Arab Emirates have failed.

Telegram can appeal the fine.



Innocent people reported to the government...

Google and Meta win a complaint against Germany's internet censorship law

Link Here 4th March 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A German court has ruled against the country's hate speech law, saying it is illegal to share innocent users' data with law enforcement.

In 2018, Germany passed a controversial law requiring social media companies to remove criminal content and report it to law enforcement. Last May, the German parliament amended the law, passing even stricter and wider regulations for social media companies. The expanded version of the law took effect in February.

Google, Meta, and Twitter filed legal complaints against the law in January 2022. In its complaint, Twitter argued that:

We are concerned that the law provides for a significant encroachment on citizens' fundamental rights.In particular, we are concerned that the obligation to proactively share user data with law enforcement forces private companies into the role of prosecutors by reporting users to law enforcement even when there is no illegal behavior.

On March 1, Cologne's administrative court ruled on Meta's and Google's complaint. The court argued the online hate-speech law violated EU law because it allowed users' data to be shared with law enforcement even before it is determined if a crime has been committed.

The decision can be appealed at a higher court.



No age verification option...

Twitter responds to German porn age verification requirements by totally blocking all Germans from adult content that has been flagged by a state internet censor

Link Here 13th February 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Twitter has been blocking the profiles of adult content creators in Germany since late 2020, with at least 60 accounts affected to date.

The move comes in response to a series of legal orders by German regulators that have ruled that online pornography should not be visible to children and must be hidden behind age-verification systems.

As Twitter doesn't have an age-verification system in place, it has responded to legal demands by outright blocking the selected accounts for anyone in Germany.

The German approach to selecting accounts to ban seems scattergun. There are thousands of Twitter accounts that post adult content, and those the internet censors has reported to Twitter appear to have large followings or are subject to individual complaints.

Anyone trying to view one of the blocked accounts in Germany sees a message saying it has been withheld in Germany in response to a legal demand. The exact number of accounts blocked in this way is unknown. One pornographic account displaying this message has more than 700,000 followers.

The policy of totally blocking all German users may encourage a large scale take up of VPNs so that users can continue to view their favourite accounts. Of course Twitter could itself block access via well known VPNs but it seems likely that this would cause widespread disruption to worldwide users living in repressive countries that try to block Twitter entirely.



Shooting the messenger...

German internet censors get wound up by the encrypted messaging app Telegram

Link Here 27th January 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German government has recently made it clear that it will impose fines and sanctions on the social messaging app Telegram if it continues to ignore the authorities' requests.

In April 2021, the federal government sent two letters to the social media company, demanding that Telegram appoints a contact person in Germany and make it easier for users to report illicit content. More recently, the German police sent multiple requests to Telegram, to try and get them to comply with the NetzDG censorship law. Telegram has yet to respond to these requests.

Now, politicians in Berlin have made it clear that they plan to get tough with Telegram. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said: Telegram, like everybody else, has to adhere to our laws.

Technology experts have warned that banning Telegram would be difficult, both technically and constitutionally. On the one hand we are celebrating Telegram's lack of censorship and its importance for democratic movements in Belarus and Iran, and on the other, we are then disabling the service here, said digital journalist Markus Reuter.



Government vs the people...

The German government considers banning Telegram to silence opposition to covid restrictions

Link Here 15th January 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German government are considering banning the encrypted Telegram messaging app that has been used by conservative groups and groups opposing Covid restrictions.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that Telegram could be banned if it continues being used by groups opposing Covid measures to organize. She told Die Zeit weekly:

We cannot rule this out. A shutdown would be grave and clearly a last resort. All other options must be exhausted first.

Faeser said that Germany was discussing with other European Union Members how to regulate Telegram, noting:

As a German nation-state, we cannot do it alone.

Telegram is a messaging app with social media-like features. Through groups and channels with an unlimited number of members and subscribers, messages, news, and other information can be shared among like-minded people. The private messages can be protected from snooping through end-to-end-encryption, although this is not the default.



Age of censorship...

German internet censors get legal backing to block Cyprus based porn sites that do not require age verification

Link Here 30th November 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A German court has ruled that authorities are justified in banning three unnamed porn websites based in Cyprus from operating in Germany due to rules requiring age verification.

The Duesseldorf administrative court said it had rejected complaints by the sites' two unnamed operators, who argued that the age verification regulations in Germany didn't apply to them because they were based in another European Union country.

The court said the decision taken by the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia state to ban the sites in Germany didn't breach national, European or international law.

The names of the sites weren't released by the court. The ruling can be appealed.



Taking offence at German censorship...

Google has announced legal action against the German government for demanding that social media companies hand over person details of users accused of hate speech

Link Here 28th July 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Google has announced that it was taking legal action over Germany's expanded hate-speech legislation which took effect in April this year.

In a blog post Google said that a new provision of Germany's Network Enforcement Act ('NetzDG') violates the right to privacy of its users. The provision requires social media platforms to share with law enforcement personal details of those sharing content suspected to be hateful.

Germany's NetzDG law came into effect in early 2018, making social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter responsible for monitoring and removing hate content from their platforms. It also required digital platforms to publish regular reports on their compliance.

In May 2021, the country's parliament passed legislation to include new provisions in the law to broaden its application, including sharing details of those judged to have shared hate-filled content with the Federal police, a move that was criticised as being heavy-handed by opposition parties and the European Commission, as well as by social media companies themselves.

Sabine Frank, YouTube's regional head of public policy, wrote in the blog post:

In our opinion, this massive interference with the rights of our users is not only in conflict with data protection, but also with the German constitution and European law.

Google believes that such massive sharing of users' personal data with law enforcement is only possible after a detailed examination by a court and a judicial confirmation.

For us, the protection of our users' data is a central concern. We have therefore decided to have the relevant obligations of the legislative package examined by the Cologne Administrative Court as part of a declaratory action.



Germany vs xHamster...

The authorities are trying to block notable porn sites

Link Here 2nd July 2021
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German media censor, the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media, wants to force the hosting provider of the porn website xHamster to lock out German users.

A year ago, the State Agency for Media in North Rhine-Westphalia began to issue porn portals such as PornHub with an ultimatum: Either they establish age verification systems or there is a threat of network blocking.

Several proceedings are currently pending at the Dusseldorf Administrative Court are being contested by porn companies who argue that they label their websites according to an international standard designed to make it easy for parents to block offers on their children's devices.

However, German legislation takes the opposite approach: Portals that are harmful to minors should only be accessible if the users are proved to be of legal age. Tobias Schmid, the director of the State Agency for Media in North Rhine-Westphalian, said:

In the end it is very simple: Anyone who wants to earn money with pornography in the German market has to adhere to German laws.

The agency has now been able to determine the hosting provider for xHamster. This is not trivial, as many porn portals disguise their IT infrastructure with the help of cloud services. The media censor has now written an official to the web host.



Endangering adults in the name of protecting the children...

Germany moves towards requiring age verification for porn sites

Link Here27th October 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
In November of 2019, Tobias Schmid began a crusade to regulate some of porn's biggest players. Schmid , the director of the State Media Authority (LMA) of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia, wanted to enforce existing mandatory age laws on porn sites like Pornhub, YouPorn, and xHamster. In practice, this would mean that all visitors to the sites would have to upload pictures of official IDs and risk the data falling into the hands of moralists and blackmailers.

Now, after an almost year long legal scramble and porn sites refusing to back down, it looks like Schmid could get his way. After telecommunication providers like Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom refusing to voluntarily implement DNS blocks against a number of sites, including Pornhub, YouPorn, and MyDirtyHobby, German authorities are now in the process of legally enforcing the bans.



Offsite Article: Twitting on users...

Link Here 5th October 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Politico reports on German moves to force social media platforms to proactively report hate speech to the government

See article from



Miserable Germany...

Germany is pursuing sex workers that post on open content systems in the USA, notably Twitter

Link Here 16th August 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
German authorities have been stepping up their efforts to fine in-country sex workers for posting sexually explicit content on open online platforms like Twitter, forcing them to take down posts on the U.S.-based -- and Free Speech-protected -- sites.

Jessica Klein of Daily Dot explained that the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media makes it illegal to distribute pornography to which minors have access.

Government censors from a confusing patchwork of censorship bodies in state and local governments have been using that legislation to target sex workers who post sexual content on open platforms like Twitter without an age-verification firewall.

The Daily Dot interviewed Bodil Diederichsen, who works with the Medienanstalt Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein (MA HSH), a regional media censor. Diederichsen was unusually candid about the official efforts to censor sex workers, and said that her unit mainly work off tips, getting notifications from the public about possibly offending content, which also includes hate speech and other violations, before researching it themselves. Ultimately, the German censors target the posters themselves, with threats of hefty fines. Presumably this avchieves more than try to get Twitter to do the censorship.

German law allows the posting on explicit content to what they call a closed user group (i.e., behind some kind of age-verification wall). But in the case of Twitter, the process is at the discretion of these local censorship bodies, like MA HSH.



Facebook cleansing...

The German government calls on the EU to call for Facebook to censor its users more aggressively

Link Here 9th July 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The German Government seems to have been inspired by a fair number of companies that find that the day to day posts of their users do not conform to the cleansed dreamworld Utopia that they would like to see as the backlot to their advertising. The advertisers are boycotting Facebook so as to try and force the social media companies to censor their users to make them fit for advertising.

Well it seems that this corporate censorship ideal is chiming with the authoritarians in the German government. is reporting that the German Government is meeting to discuss ideas to require Facebook to apply even more automatic censorship to what their users are allowed to post:

The German government has indicated again that it wants to increase the regulation of Facebook content, and say that the tactics applied by the social network are not enough to prevent the spread of so-called hate speech.

Possible actions by the German government are being decided upon as a response to a campaign against Facebook originated by activist movements in the United States.

These movements, united under names such as Stop Hate for Profit, say that the social network has not contributed much in the fight against hate speech, so they urge the platform's advertisers to not advertise during the whole month of July to put pressure on Facebook until it changes its moderation policies.

This week, Berlin called for more action at a meeting on Monday of the bloc's justice ministers. German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said:

We cannot accept the public debate being distorted and poisoned. Voluntary commitments and self-responsibility are not enough.

Since 2018 there is a law in Germany that requires that content that has been reported as inappropriate be blocked or removed from social networks within 24 hours. This law encouraged social networks to dedicate themselves much more to regulating content.

For the German government and activist groups, it's still not enough. And, at this point, it's starting to look like nothing ever will be.



Offsite Article: Germany's Online Censorship Laws Inspire the World's Dictators...

Link Here7th November 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
An anti-hate speech law written in Berlin has been copy-pasted by authoritarian regimes from Caracas to Moscow. By Jacob Mchangama and Joelle Fiss

See article from



Facebook loses count of the number of censorship requests...

Germany fines Facebook for a transparency report that did not detail the amount of claims of illegal content that Facebook received

Link Here2nd July 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany has fined Facebook for failing to detail the number of complaints received in a transparency report.

The Federal Office for Justice (BfJ,) a subdivision of the German justice ministry, announced that it had issued Facebook a fine of 2 million euro for failing to meet the requirements of Berlin's Network Enforcement Act, a law against illegal content, in its transparency report for the first half of 2018.

In the penalty charge notice, the BfJ reprimands in particular that in the released report, the number of received complaints about unlawful content is incomplete, the office said in its announcement, adding that this is creating a distorted image in the public about the extent of unlawful content [on the platform] and the way the social network is dealing with it.



Politicians start to realise that their promotion of internet censorship is not so popular...

Merkel's successor gets in a pickle for claiming that YouTubers should be censored before an election

Link Here31st May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Prior to the European Parliament elections, popular YouTube users in Germany appealed to their followers to boycott the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD).

Following a miserable election result, CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer made statements suggesting that in the future, such opinions may be censored.

Popular German YouTube star Rezo urged voters to punish the CDU and its coalition partner by not voting for them. Rezo claimed that the government's inactions on critical issues such as climate change, security and intellectual property rights are destroying our lives and our future.

Rezo quickly found the support of 70 other influential YouTube presenters. But politicians accused him of misrepresenting information and lacking credibility in an effort to discredit him. Nonetheless, his video had nearly 4 million views by Sunday, the day of the election.

Experts like Prof. J3crgen Falter of the University of Mainz believe that Renzo's video swayed the opinions of many undecided voters, especially those under age 30.

Kramp-Karrenbauer commented on it during a press conference:

What would have happened in this country if 70 newspapers decided just two days before the election to make the joint appeal: 'Please don't vote for the CDU and SPD ? That would have been a clear case of political bias before the election.

What are the rules that apply to opinions in the analog sphere?  And which rules should apply in the digital sphere?

She concluded that these topics will be discussed by the CDU , saying:

I'm certain, they'll play a role in discussions surrounding media policy and democracy in the future.

Many interpreted her statements as an attack on freedom of speech and a call to censor people's opinions online. Ria Schröder, head of the Young Liberals, wrote:

The CDU's understanding of democracy If you are against me, I censor you is incomprehensible!

The right of a user on YouTube or other social media to discuss his or her political view is covered by Germany's Basic Law, which guarantees freedom of speech.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's statements may threaten her chance for the chancellorship. More importantly, they expose the mindset of Germany's political leadership.



Extract: German president calls for more internet censorship...

European politicians vs Silicon Valley

Link Here14th May 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the re:publica 2019 conference in Berlin last week with a speech about internet censorship. The World Socialist Web Site reported the speech:

With cynical references to Germany's Basic Law and the right to freedom of speech contained within it, Steinmeier called for new censorship measures and appealed to the major technology firms to enforce already existing guidelines more aggressively.

He stated, The upcoming 70th anniversary of the German Basic Law reminds us of a connection that pre-dates online and offline: liberty needs rules--and new liberties need new rules. Furthermore, freedom of opinion brings with it responsibility for opinion. He stressed that he knew there are already many rules, among which he mentioned the notorious Network Enforcement Law (Netz DG), but it will be necessary to argue over others.

He then added, Anyone who creates space for a political discussion with a platform bears responsibility for democracy, whether they like it or not. Therefore, democratic regulations are required, he continued. Steinmeier said that he felt this is now understood in Silicon Valley. After a lot of words and announcements, discussion forums, and photogenic appearances with politicians, it is now time for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Co. to finally acknowledge their responsibility for democracy, finally put it into practice.



Digital Nazis...

Germany lawmakers consider bill to ban Tor and perhaps even encrypted messaging

Link Here23rd April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

On the 15th of March, the German Bundesrat (Federal Council) voted to amend the Criminal Code in relation to internet based services such as The onion router (Tor).

The proposed law has been lambasted as being too vague, with privacy experts rightfully fearful that the law would be overapplied. The proposal, originating from the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach, would amend and expand criminal law and make running a Tor node or website illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. According to, if passed, the expansion of the Criminal Code would be used to punish anyone who offers an internet-based service whose access and accessibility is limited by special technical precautions, and whose purpose or activity is directed to commit or promote certain illegal acts.

What's worse is that the proposed changes are so vaguely worded that many other services that offer encryption could be seen as falling under this new law. While the proposal does seem to have been written to target Tor hidden services which are dark net markets, the vague way that the proposal has been written makes it a very real possibility that other encrypted services such as messaging might be targeted under these new laws, as well.

Now that the motion to amend has been accepted by Bundesrat, it will be forwarded to the Federal Government for drafting, consideration, and comment. Then, within a month and a half, this new initiative will be forwarded to the German Senate, aka the Bundestag, where it will be finally voted on. Private Internet Access and many others denounce this proposal and continue to support Tor and an open internet

Private Internet Access currently supports the Tor Project and runs a number of Tor exit nodes as a part of our commitment to online privacy. PIA believes this proposed amendment to the German Criminal Code is not just bad for Tor, which was named specifically, but also for online privacy as a whole -- and we're not the only ones.

German criminal lawyer David Schietinger told Der Spiegel that he was concerned the law was too overreaching and could also mean an e-mail provider or the operator of a classic online platform with password protection.

The bill contains mainly rubber paragraphs with the clear goal to criminalize operators and users of anonymization services. Intentionally, the facts are kept very blurred. The intention is to create legal uncertainty and unavoidable risks of possible criminal liability for anyone who supports the right to anonymous communication on the Internet.



Connected with common sense...

Germany's highest court upholds legislation allowing public Wi-Fi previously impractical due to laws holding networks responsible for copyright infringement by users

Link Here 31st July 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany'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.



Offsite Article: Germany's Deletion Centre...

Link Here 16th June 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A report about 1200 internet censors working in Germany to delete Nazi symbols and insults of migrants

See article from



Nazi censors...

German politician gets name calling censored as required under new internet censorship law, but she is now demanding that it should be censored worldwide, not just in Germany

Link Here5th May 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
  Internet censors in training

It hasn't taken long for Germany's new internet censorship to be used against the trivial name calling of politicians.

A recent German law was intended to put a stop to hate speech, but its difficult and commercially expensive to bother considering every case on its merits, so its just easier and cheaper for internet companies to censor everything asked for.

So of course easily offended politician are quick to ask for trivial name calling insults to be taken down. But now there's a twist, for an easily offended politician, it is not enough for Facebook to block an insult in Germany, it must be blocked worldwide.

Courthouse News Service reports that a German court has indulged a politician's hypocritical outrage to demand the disappearance of an insulting comment posted to Facebook.

Alice Weidel, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, objected to a Facebook post calling her a dirty Nazi swine for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Facebook immediately complied, but Weidel's lawyers complained it hadn't been vanished hard enough, pointing out that German VPN users could still access the comment.

Facebook's only comment, via Reuters, was to note it had already blocked the content in Germany , which is all the law really requires.

Of course once you allow mere insults to be censorable, you then hit the issue of fairness. Insults against some PC favoured groups are totally off limits and are considered to be a PC crime of the century, whilst insults against others (eg white men) are positively encouraged.



Offsite Article: Germany and the perils of online censorship...

Link Here 26th April 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
When social-media giants become the corporate wing of state censorship. By Steve Bremner

See article from



Facebook censored criticism of the mainstream media...

A Facebook poster who was censored in the name of Germany's NetzDG law wins a first skirmish in a German court

Link Here14th April 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A Berlin court has issued an injunction ordering Facebook not to block a user and not to delete a comment

The order appears to be the first such court intervention against censorship in Germany.

Last year a new law called the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) came into effect that effectively frces Facebook to over censor just in case it gets hit by ludicrously large fines. And it was an example of this over reaction by Facebook that is being challenged in court

The comment in question was placed by Gabor B under a Basler Zeitung article that referenced anti-immigrant statements by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. The Germans are becoming ever more stupid, Gabor B's comment, posted in January, read. No wonder, since they are every day littered with fake news from the left-wing Systemmedien about 'skilled workers', declining unemployment rates or Trump.

When Facebook removed his comment and hit him with a 30-day account suspension, Gabor B retained conservative Hamburg lawyer Joachim Steinhöfel who is well known for taking on free-expression cases and is running something of a crusade against what he sees as Facebook's overenthusiastic application of the NetzDG.



Appeals for free speech...

Germany looks to create an appeals body to contest false censorship caused by the undue haste required for take downs

Link Here 9th March 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
A 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.



Perhaps the problems of fake news, Russian propaganda etc are mostly hype...

German internet users aren't rushing to get Facebook posts censored

Link Here6th March 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Authorities in Germany said they have received far fewer complaints from citizens than expected since the country's social network censorship law (NetzDG) went into effect 01 January, reported Heise Online.

Germany's Federal Office for Justice (BfJ), the division of Germany's Federal Minister of Justice responsible for enforcing the law said they have received only 205 complaints since January, less than 1% of the amount predicted. The German government had assumed that citizens would file roughly 25,000 complaints with the BfJ .



Extract: Flawed Social Media Law...

Human Rights Watch criticises the recent German internet censorship law that leaves social media companies with little choice but to take down any complained about posts without due consideration

Link Here 15th February 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government's behalf. Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch said:

Governments and the public have valid concerns about the proliferation of illegal or abusive content online, but the new German law is fundamentally flawed. It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal.

Parliament approved the Network Enforcement Act , commonly known as NetzDG, on June 30, 2017, and it took full effect on January 1, 2018. The law requires large social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, to promptly remove "illegal content," as defined in 22 provisions of the criminal code , ranging widely from insult of public office to actual threats of violence. Faced with fines up to 50 million euro, companies are already removing content to comply with the law.

At least three countries -- Russia, Singapore, and the Philippines -- have directly cited the German law as a positive example as they contemplate or propose legislation to remove "illegal" content online. The Russian draft law, currently before the Duma, could apply to larger social media platforms as well as online messaging services.

Two key aspects of the law violate Germany's obligation to respect free speech, Human Rights Watch said. First, the law places the burden on companies that host third-party content to make difficult determinations of when user speech violates the law, under conditions that encourage suppression of arguably lawful speech. Even courts can find these determinations challenging, as they require a nuanced understanding of context, culture, and law. Faced with short review periods and the risk of steep fines, companies have little incentive to err on the side of free expression.

Second, the law fails to provide either judicial oversight or a judicial remedy should a cautious corporate decision violate a person's right to speak or access information. In this way, the largest platforms for online expression become "no accountability" zones, where government pressure to censor evades judicial scrutiny.

At the same time, social media companies operating in Germany and elsewhere have human rights responsibilities toward their users, and they should act to protect them from abuse by others, Human Rights Watch said. This includes stating in user agreements what content the company will prohibit, providing a mechanism to report objectionable content, investing adequate resources to conduct reviews with relevant regional and language expertise, and offering an appeals process for users who believe their content was improperly blocked or removed. Threats of violence, invasions of privacy, and severe harassment are often directed against women and minorities and can drive people off the internet or lead to physical attacks.

...Read the full article from



Offsite Article: Another example of censorship backfire...

Link Here 14th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Can social media become less hateful by law? Germany is trying it -- and failing

See article from



Self inflicted censorship...

German 'justice' minister falls victim to his own badly thought out new censorship law

Link Here 9th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany's justice minister fell victim to the rules he himself championed against online social media when one of his tweets was deleted following several complaints.

The censored tweet dated back to 2010, when Heiko Maas was not yet minister. in the tweet he had called Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, an idiot.

Maas told Bild on Monday that he did not receive any information from Twitter about why the tweet was deleted, or whether it would be deleted from Twitter.

Germany meanwhile signalled on Monday it was open to amending the controversial law which combats online hate speech. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said an evaluation would be carried out within six months to examine how well the new law was working.



Inevitably shoddy results from forcing commercial companies to censor posts for free...

German opposition parties speak out about new internet censorship law that even if the first week is manifestly failing freedom of speech

Link Here8th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany'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.



German free speech sails the Titanic...

As feared, Twitter is unable to distinguish between hateful comments and criticism of hateful comments and so just censors everything

Link Here 6th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
The 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.



Updated: Not a happy new year...

German internet censorship law comes into force

Link Here 5th January 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany starts enforcing an internet censorship law where contested content has to be taken down pronto by social media who will suffer massive fines of they don't comply.

The law is supposedly targeted at obviously illegal hate speech, but surely it will be used to take down content anyone doesn't like for any reason. The threats of fines and short time allowed simply means that websites will opt for the easiest and most economic policy, and that is to take down anything contested.

The new law states the sites that do not remove obviously illegal posts could face fines of up to 50m euro. The law gives the networks 24 hours to act after they have been told about law-breaking material.

Social networks and media sites with more than two million members will fall under the law's provisions. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will be the law's main focus but it is also likely to be applied to Reddit, Tumblr and Russian social network VK. Other sites such as Vimeo and Flickr could also be caught up in its provisions.

Facebook has reportedly recruited several hundred staff in Germany to deal with reports about content that breaks the NetzDG and to do a better job of monitoring what people post.

Update: First examples of fair free speech being censored in Germany

5th January 2018. See  article from

Sophie Passmann is an unlikely poster child for Germany's new online hate speech laws.

The 24-year-old comedian from Cologne posted a satirical message on Twitter early on New Year's Day, mocking the German far right's fear that the hundreds of thousands of immigrants that have entered the country in recent years would endanger Germany's culture. Instead of entertaining her more than 14,000 Twitter followers , Passmann's tweet was blocked within nine hours by the American social media giant, telling users in Germany that Passmann's message had run afoul of local laws.

...Read the full article from

Update: German censorship law is a sin against free speech

5th January 2018. See  article from

A top-selling German newspaper has called for a new social media hate speech law to be axed after labelling it a sin against freedom of opinion.

The law which took effect on January 1 can impose fines of up to 2£44million on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly.

The Bild newspaper, under the headline Please spare us the thought police!, says the new law risks making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted.

Update: Germany's AfD party seeks to turn online censorship to its advantage

5th January 2018. See article from

Germany's rightwing AfD party have been busy with political posters pointing out that they will be the likely victims of censorship under Germany's new law.

And they will certainly have a good claim. The new law will surely over censor, and any complaint will end up in a censored post, regardless of the merits of the claim. A slightly UnPC post by AfD is likely to be blocked, and so the AfD will rightly be able to highlight the censorship.

The publicity for examples of censorship will surely chime with a significant proportion of the German population, and so will add to the general level of disaffection with the political elite.

Perhaps Germany ought to at least ensure that censorship should be based on the merits of the case, not implemented by a commercial company who only cares about the cheapest possible method of meeting the censorship requirements.



Update: Hate speech and anything else the authorities don't like...

New law comes into force in Germany requiring social media to delete 'hate speech' within 24 hours

Link Here2nd October 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany'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.



Update: Censor first, and there's no point asking questions later...

Germany passes law requiring social media websites to immediately censor on request

Link Here30th June 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Social media companies in Germany face fines of up to 50m euros if they fail to remove obviously illegal content in time. From October, Facebook, YouTube, and other sites with more that two million users in Germany must take down posts containing hate speech or other criminal material within 24 hours. Content that is not obviously unlawful must be assessed within seven days.

Failure to comply will result in a 5m euro penalty, which could rise to 50m euros depending on the severity of the offence.

Facebook responded in a statement:

We believe the best solutions will be found when government, civil society and industry work together and that this law as it stands now will not improve efforts to tackle this important societal problem.

German MPs voted in favour of the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) law after months of deliberation, on the last legislative day before the Bundestag's summer break.

Opponents  responded the tight time limits are unrealistic, and will lead to accidental censorship as technology companies err on the side of caution and delete ambiguous posts to avoid paying penalties.

The bill has faced criticism from human right's campaigners. Many of the violations covered by the bill are highly dependent on context, context which platforms are in no position to assess, wrote the UN Special Rapporteur to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, David Kaye. He added that the obligations placed upon private companies to regulate and take down content raises concern with respect to freedom of expression.

The law may still be chllenged in Brussels, where campaigners have claimed it breaches EU laws.



Update: Supporting hackers, phishers and thieves...

Germany joins chorus of governments wanting an end to a safe and encrypted internet

Link Here 15th June 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
German authorities want the right to look at private messages on services such as WhatsApp to try and prevent terrorism. Ministers have also agreed to lower the age limit for fingerprinting minors to six from 14 for asylum seekers.

Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance. We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters.

Among the options Germany is considering is source telecom surveillance, where authorities install software on phones to relay messages before they are encrypted. That is now illegal.

Austria is also planning laws to make it easier to monitor encrypted messages as well as building out a linked network of cameras and other equipment to read vehicle licence plates.

Meanwhile Japan is also introducing mass snooping in the name of the prevention of terrorism. See  Japan passes 'brutal' counter-terror law despite fears over civil liberties from



Update: Censor first, no questions later...

Germany approves plans to require social media to immediately censor posts that complainants do not like

Link Here 7th April 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

German ministers have recently approved plans to fine technology companies if they fail to censor posts that are claimed to be hate speech or 'fake news'.

The law introduces fines to the tune of approximately £42.7m if technology companies do not censor complalined about posts within 24 hours of it being reported (or seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases). The approval comes one month after the draft law, the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, was unveiled.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are likely to be particularly affected.

Many have raised concerns over the censorship process. The head of the Digital Society Association, Volker Tripp, said: It is the wrong approach to make social networks into a content police.

The implementation of the law will now mean that all contended posts will now be rapidly and routinely removed regardless of the voracity of the complaint. After all this is the age when complainants are always right.



Update: Defence Centre against Misinformation...

German government plans revealed to set up a propaganda and internet censorship office

Link Here 9th January 2017
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
For weeks, the German and international public sphere has been bombarded with a campaign against so-called fake news. Now Der Spiegel is reporting that the government now wants to establish a Defence Centre against Misinformation , a type of censorship and propaganda agency.

The Defence Centre will be set up in the Federal Press Office under Steffen Seibert. The new centre is supposed to strengthen the political power of defence of the population and force social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to censor content posted by users.

The acceptance of a post-factual age would amount to political capitulation, an internal paper quoted by Der Spiegel said. The paper insisted that authentic political communication remains crucial for the 21 century as well. Accordingly, wide-reaching measures would have to be formulated to deal with the disinformation campaign, fake news and the manipulation of public opinion.

The World Socialist Web Site notes:

In reality the plans for an Orwellian Truth Ministry have nothing to do with concerns about false news reports. Instead, the established parties, the state media and private media corporations fear that they are losing their monopoly on public opinion. The Internet has provided millions of people with the possibility, for the first time, of obtaining access to information that has not been selected and filtered by the official media. This has been behind the fear in the media and political parties.

The ruling class is reacting to growing social tensions and political discontent in the same way it has in the past: with police, prosecution and the suppression of free speech.

Maybe German politicians are just panicking about the unpopularity of their free-for-all immigration and refugee policy.



Update: Storm troopers sent in to Facebook...

Germany continues to try and censor its way out of its refugee mess

Link Here 5th November 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is at the centre of a criminal investigation in Germany into whether Facebook adequately censors  Nazi-themed content posted on the social network.

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and its European policy director, Richard Allan, are also under investigation, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel. All three have been accused by Chan-jo Jun, a Bavarian lawyer, of failing to ensure posts on Facebook containing racist abuse, threats of violence and Holocaust denial are removed.

Jun said he identified more than 430 posts on Facebook which he found offensive which were reported to Facebook but never deleted. Instead, he said Facebook sent him a generic response dismissing the posts as harmless.

According to Der Spiegel, prosecutors in Munich have now opened a preliminary investigation and are looking into whether there is enough evidence of a criminal offence. Under German law, Facebook is legally obliged to remove racist or Nazi-themed content as soon as it becomes aware of it.

Facebook has dismissed the allegations, saying they lack merit, and insists that none of its employees have broken any laws.



Extract: Ever more extreme censorship demands...

Germany is getting worked up that it cannot get Facebook to adequately censor negative comments about refugees

Link Here 15th October 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germanpulse has published an interesting piece about German politicians expecting social media websites to pre-censors posts that the government doesn't like:

We have reported on the German government's war against social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google many times over the last year as the country tries to rid the popular sites of any signs of hate speech. While the companies have made attempts to appease government officials with stricter enforcement, each move is said to still not be enough. The question is: is Germany taking the fight too far?

Volker Kauder, a member of the CDU, spoke with Der Spiegel this week to say the time for roundtables is over. I've run out of patience, and argues that Facebook, Twitter and Google have failed and should pay 50,000 euro ($54,865) fines for not providing a strict level of censorship.

All major social media sites do provide tools to report hate speech offenders, but Kauder isn't the only one to argue that the tool is ineffective.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas made a statement that only 46 percent of the comments were erased by Facebook, while a mere one percent were taken care of by Twitter.

Maas' solution is not much different from Kauder's, as he told Handelsblatt that the companies should face legal consequences.

...Read the full article from

Der Spiegel has also published an opinion piece showing a little exasperation with trying to get comments censored by Facebook.

In June, the national body made up of justice ministers from the 16 federal states in Germany launched a legislative initiative to introduce a law which, if passed, would require operators of Internet platforms to immediately disclose the identity of users whose online actions are the subject of criminal proceedings. The law explicitly covers companies that are not based in Germany, but in fact do business here.

Justice Minister Maas must now introduce the draft law to Chancellor Merkel's cabinet, but he's hesitant out of fear of a backlash among a net community that still views Facebook as a symbol of Internet freedom. So far, he has done little that goes beyond appeals. If he wanted too, however, Maas could push for a further tightening of the country's telecommunications law. All that would be needed is a clause stipulating that every Internet company that does business in Germany would be required to name one person within the firm who is a resident in the country who could be held liable under German law.

...Read the full article from



Update: Forcing hate offline...

German police raids targeted at right wing extremism on social media

Link Here 15th July 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

German police have carried out a series of raids, targeting people suspected of posting alleged hate content on social media. The co-ordinated raids on 60 addresses were the first time the authorities had acted on this issue in such an extreme way.

Police comments on the issue suggest that the target of the raids were for comments that were considered right-wing extremism. However it is difficult to interpret the background when both the police and newspaper statements are contorted by the politically correct requirement to not mention islam.

Holger Munch, president of Germany's federal criminal police authority, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) said: Today's action makes it clear that police authorities of the federal and state governments act firmly against hate and incitement on the internet. He said politically motivated hate crime on the internet had increased significantly in the wake of the European refugee crisis.

Under pressure from the German authorities, Facebook, Twitter and Google agreed at the end of last year to delete such speech from their services within 24 hours. Facebook also agreed to a series of further measures including:

Partnering with a German group of multimedia service providers to solve the problem

Launching a task force to deal with hate speech on the internet

A propaganda campaign to promote counter speech in German, drawing in experts to develop ways to combat racism through discussions on social media.



Update: Police threats...

German police raid the homes of individuals who have criticised refugee issues on social media

Link Here11th April 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Berlin Police completed a large scale raid on internet users Wednesday. Police ransacked ten separate apartments. Nine people were arrested and are accused of posting messages critical of migrants, migrant helpers and some anti-semitic slogans on social networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

The men were not connected by membership of far right groups. Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said that while many of the men shared anti-migrant views, the men do not know each other according to previous findings, and there was no evidence of any planned conspiracy to commit crime among them. Redlich justified the raids saying they were maybe, people who just once expressed their hate-opinion.

Police announced that the raids show Germans that they are not as safe online as they might think. They say that anyone who says something xenophobic, spreads hate toward migrants, or shares what they consider to be xenophobic music, may be next on the list of apartments to be raided in the future.



Update: Germany bans far right website...

And also worries about the grey zone where the not so far right citizens criticise refugees

Link Here 28th January 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Germany has banned a far-right website for spreading racist, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic content and arrested two people in a clampdown on hate crime.

Material on the website included banned Nazi slogans and the denial of the Holocaust as well as incitement of violence against foreigners, the prosecutors' office said.

The ban on the Altermedia Deutschland platform came as raids were carried out in homes in four German states as well as in the northeastern Spanish town of Lloret de Mar.

The two arrested people were the administrators of the Altermedia website and therefore responsible for its content that was served from a hosting company in Russia. German officials have asked Russia to take down the website.

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence, Hans-Georg Maassen, told reporters that:

There is the danger of a gray zone developing between far-right extremists, right-wing conservatives and citizen protesters with significant potential for violence.

Meanwhile Dutch far right website speaks of police taking action against people who tweet too much

28th January 2016. See  article from

Dutch police have been visiting the homes of people critical of asylum centres on Twitter, urging them to delete posts.

In recent months, police have visited the homes of many more people that criticised the plans for asylum centres. In October 2015, in Leeuwarden about twenty opponents of the programs received police visits at home. It happened in Enschede, and in some places in the Brabant, where, according to the Dutch media, people who had been critical of the arrival of refugees and ran a page on social media on the topic were told to stop.

A spokesman for the national police acknowledged to Handelsblad that there are ten intelligence units of digital detectives monitoring in real time Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and looking for posts that go too far .



Update: Germany Unfriends Facebook...

Facebook launches undetailed censorship scheme in Germany in response to government pressure about criticism of refugees and immigration

Link Here 20th January 2016
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Facebook has launched a censorship campaign designed to silence hate speech, extremism and racism in Europe.

It unveiled its Online Civil Courage Initiative following months of pressure from the German government.

Although Facebook insists its strategy is about combating extremism, it does not make it clear whether this means Islamic terrorism, right wing racism or both.

Announcing the launch of the initiative, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said:

The best cure for bad ideas is good ideas. The best remedy for hate is tolerance. Hate speech has no place in our society - not even on the Internet. Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence.



Update: Merkel seeks refuge from criticism...

German prosecutors initiate action against Facebook exec for allegedly allowing xenophobic comments

Link Here 12th November 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering
Prosecutors in Hamburg have launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over the website's alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.

German politicians and celebrities have voiced 'concern' about the rise of xenophobic comments in German on Facebook and on other social media as the country struggles to cope with the million refugees who have responded to the country's inviitation.

Facebook's Hamburg-based managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe , Martin Ott, may be held responsible for the social platform not removing hate speech. This move follows an investigation into three other Facebook managers started last month.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has previously urged Facebook to do more on the matter.

Facebook said it would not commenting on the investigation. But we can say that the allegations lack merit and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.



Update: Shooting the Messenger...

Germany considers prosecuting Facebook over hateful comments about migrants

Link Here 22nd October 2015
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

With enormous numbers of refugees prompting significant numbers of hateful posts on social media, German prosecutors are considering going after Facebook itself for acting as a home for posts that advocate racial hatred and violate laws against neo-Nazi speech.

German prosecutors are investigating possible charges against three Facebook managers, prompted by a complaint that they failed to act against racist comments about Europe's refugee crisis.

The complaint came from German attorney Chan-jo Jun, of Wuerzburg. In it, he claimed to have flagged more than 60 Facebook entries that would violate German hate-speech laws. In an interview in Die Welt newspaper, he noted that the posts he flagged -- some featuring Nazi insignia and people posing while giving a Nazi salute -- are strictly forbidden by German law.

But, he said, Facebook responded to his complaints by saying the content didn't violate Facebook's community standards, and the posts were not removed. He made copies of the posts and sent them to Facebook's German managers by registered mail. In the complaint he filed, he noted:

We need to put an end to the arrogance with which some companies try to translate their system of values to Europe.

Facebook Germany encourages the dissemination of offensive, punishable content through its actions in Germany.

This week, the German tabloid Bild ran a two-page spread of nothing but hateful Facebook comments, complete with user names and profile photos. The comments were directed at the large number of refugees seeking asylum in Germany, and those who support them.



Update: Muffled Tweets...

Twitter implements blocks Germany from receiving tweets from banned right wing group

Link Here20th October 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Twitter has blocked access to a neo-Nazi account at the request of the German government.

The tweets will no longer be visible to users in Germany although the rest of the world will be able to view them.

It is the first time the social networking site has implemented its local censorship policy, which came into force in January. That policy allows it to block content in specific countries.

Announcing the decision, Twitter's general counsel Alex Macgillivray published links to the letter sent by German police, requesting the account be closed.

The letter outlined how the government had banned the organisation Besseres Hannover, (Better Hannover), a right-wing extremist group from Lower Saxony. It is disbanded, its assets are seized and all its accounts in social networks have to be closed immediately, the letter read.

Update: The easily offended queue up to get insults blocked by Twitter

20th October 2012. See  article from

The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) is attempting to get a legal judgment against Twitter to block and reveal the identities of users who sent anti-Semitic tweets under the hashtag #UnBonJuif - A Good Jew.

Spurred on by Twitter's decision to ban a neo-Nazi account in Germany, the group has sought a legal order for the tweets and their writers to be blocked. The UEJF's lawyer, Stephane Lilti, has criticized Twitter's reaction to their complaints, and claims their demands were not listened to:

There is a fire and we have to put it out. We want to put an end to this torrent of hatred, which could become all so real. Like all hosts, Twitter has to react promptly when someone tells them about racism on their site.

Twitter has reacted as an American service provider: they're obsessed with American law. But, for tweets in French, destined for French people, Twitter must follow French law.

However saying that, the tweets are now being removed. The decision to remove the tweets emerged from a meeting between Twitter's senior management, the UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun and the group's legal representatives. During the meeting the UEJF handed over a list of the posts it wants removed.


10th December

Update: Out of Sight Out of Mind...

Germany strikes off unused law enabling website blocking for child abuse images

Germany's lower house of Parliament has repealed a law enabling website blocking iof websites containing child pornography.

The Bundestag's 2009 law enabled a list of sites compiled by Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office to be blocked by ISPs.

However the law was denounced as soon as it was passed and the repeal process was put into effect.

The criticism was that internet blocks are easy to work round via proxies and that putting them on a blocked list rather lets such websites off the hook, as they have seemingly been dealt with. And of course the websites are effectively vanished to decent folks, so there will be no further complaints for the authorities to act upon.

The only way to prevent such sites from being viewed is to delete them, Internet expert Jimmy Schulz said, by alerting the individual Internet service providers.


13th June

Update: Betting on Trojan Horses...

Germany to set up internet censorship in the name of blocking gambling sites

An inter-state treaty that will overhaul Germany's gambling restrictions could prove a threat to the open net. Should a recent draft be adopted, ISPs would be obliged to prevent users from accessing unauthorized gambling websites, which critics fear will mean the establishment of a censorship infrastructure that would breach constitutional rights.

A draft of the treaty sent to the European Union for approval in April includes a paragraph which has been widely interpreted as a provision for the introduction of Internet filtering as a means of blocking out foreign and unlicensed gambling websites:

[Translated from German] The gambling superintendent can [...], after prior publication of unauthorized gambling services, interdict service providers in the sense of the tele-media act, in particular access providers and registrars, participation in providing access to unauthorized gambling services.

Commenting on an earlier draft of the same treaty, the Chaos Computer Club had warned that Internet service providers might be forced to implement deep packet inspection in order to prevent clients from accessing foreign gambling websites. In particular, mention of an impact on the constitutional right to telecommunications secrecy, meaning that content information would be accessed, makes an intention to introduce deep packet inspection plausible.

The new gambling treaty has to be signed by 13 of Germany's 16 federal states to become effective. So far, the issue has raised controversy in a range of states governed by coalitions of Greens (against the proposal) and Social Democrats (for the proposal.

The issue has become particularly controversial in Northrine-Westphalia when recently it was discovered that for more than a year, there are already two district-level blocking orders (in German) against gambling websites. These were based on the old gambling treaty, but have been disputed in court by the two ISPs in concern. As a Telekom speaker explained, the company perceives website blocking as requiring an unconstitutional breach of telecommunications secrecy.

The prime ministers of the federal states have now decided to delay a final decision on the gambling treaty to October.


7th April

Update: Internet Unblocked...

Germany to repeal internet blocking legislation

Germany is to repeal controversial legislation intended to block access to child-pornography sites on the internet, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.

She had led protests by German libertarians against the legislation, which was was passed in 2009 but never implemented. Opponents contended that it opened the way to web censorship, since it set up mechanisms that could also be used by a dictatorial government to block politically offensive websites.

ISPs would have been required to block page requests for child porn and to instead display a stop sign.

The minister said German police were now coping with the problem differently, tracking down servers with child-porn images and demanding that the server owners delete the images. German federal police have a web-porn department that tips off foreign police forces about child-abuse websites.


24th June

Judge Doesn't Rate Teacher's Case...

Teacher rating website cleared to continue in Germany

A German court has ruled that schoolchildren may rate their teachers online, rejecting the case of a woman who argued that her rights had been infringed by pupils who gave her bad grades on a popular website.

The rights of the woman, a teacher of German and religion, had not been compromised by the ratings and pupils had a right to offer an opinion as long as they did not hinder her professionally, the German Federal Court of Justice found.

The opinions expressed are neither abusive nor insulting, the court said in a statement: The plaintiff did not show that she had been harmed in any specific way.

Collection, storage, and transmission of ratings by online portal was therefore permissible without the assent of the plaintiff, the court ruled.

The ruling will boost controversial websites such as Rate My Teacher in the UK, which operates a similar system.

This year more than one in ten teachers said that they were bullied by pupils and colleagues through text messages, e-mails and social networking sites.

A quarter of UK teachers said that they had had offensive messages posted about them on social networking sites such as Facebook or Rate My Teacher, according to the survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Teacher Support Network.

The lawyers of the German teacher, who had been given a rating of 4.3 for her German teaching, argued that the site was unfair and inaccurate because users rate subjects anonymously. This could lead to multiple ratings by the same person, as well as ratings by people with no connection to the school or teacher in question, they argued.

But the court said that in this case, the right of the individual to express an opinion outweighed these concerns.


22nd June

Update: Jumping Ship...

German MP defects to the Pirate Party over internet censorship issue

A German MP from the ruling Social Democrats (SDP) has resigned from the party and joined the Pirate Party in response to new censorship laws in the country.

Jörg Tauss was one of only four members of the Bundestag to vote against the censorship legislation. The German laws, unlike those from other totalitarian regimes like Iran, China and Australia, are focused strictly on child pornography, however there are deep concerns in Germany that once implemented the laws could easily be extended to other areas.

While Tauss has become the first member of the Pirate Party in the German Parliament, he has indicated that he won't be standing for re-election in September. Germany's election system makes it difficult for stand alone candidates to be elected or re-elected.


20th June

Update: Dangerous Content Warning...

German parliament passes internet blocking law

The German parliament passed a bill Thursday imposing censorship of pornographic websites justified by the need to protect children.

The legislation was proposed by a coalition of German social democratic and conservative parties. It requires the country's federal criminal investigators to maintain a list of websites accused of containing child pornography and to distribute it to German ISPs, which will then be required to block queries to those websites with a stop sign.

In its present form, the bill requires only that ISPs display the warning sign. Users will still be able to access the flagged websites, but they will be advised that viewing child pornography is illegal. German legislators also bowed to criticism by adding a sunset clause that will see the law expire in three years.


17th June

Update: Impasse Unblocked...

Blocked attempts not logged so German internet filtering now commands political support

Politicians from the nation's two major parties agreed on a final version of Germany's internet filtering bill Monday night, reports Gigaom. The bill could now be approved as soon as Thursday.

Free-speech advocates, Internet activists and Internet service providers have opposed the bill and suggest denial-of-service blocking does not work, with concerns this will take the government into areas of greater Internet censorship.

Under the measure, German federal police would compile a block list containing the domain names and IP addresses of websites hosting and linking to child porn. ISPs would be required to block the sites and redirect all traffic to a site or sites hosting a warning message in the form of a red Stop sign.

An official online petition against the bill has received more than 130,000 signatures and counting, plus the number of citizens trying to sign the petition has reportedly brought down the parliament's Web infrastructure several times.

ISPs had voiced opposition to provisions in the measure that would mandate that they log each attempt to access a blocked site and share the information with law enforcement organizations. This would include anyone who might accidentally click on the wrong link, even if it was placed by a hacker. In turn, an innocent person could be labeled a pedophile, and with that possibility in mind, lawmakers removed that portion of the bill requiring ISP logs.


5th June

Update: 100,000 Against...

Internet blocking proposal not getting an easy ride in Germany

German Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen is struggling to pass a new law designed to combat online child pornography in the face of widespread concern over censorship and freedom of speech. The law would use blacklists to bar access to specific sites.

Von der Leyen proposes setting up an office in the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to determine whether or not sites should be blocked. Lists would then be sent to Internet service providers, which would be responsible for blocking the content.

The list would contain an estimated 1,500 sites. Von der Leyen says blocking them could derail 450,000 hits a day. The personal data and ISP addresses of people trying to access blocked sites would not be captured.

The bill would be the first time in the history of post-war Germany that police would be granted the authority to determine what can and cannot be shown by the mass media. Right now, the legislation doesn't call for any supervision of the proposed agency.

Opponents of the bill say the proposal threatens the freedom of the Internet, and that blocks on Web sites and other censorship measures are easily bypassed and ineffective. Thus far, almost 100,000 people have signed a petition against the measure, twice what the law requires to force a discussion in German parliament. One fear is that the list, once established, could be used to censor other sites. Opponents also argue that blocking Web sites is ineffective against child pornographers, who tend to distribute material through e-mail, peer-to-peer systems and chatrooms, all of which are much harder to police.

Social Democratic parliamentarian Gregor Amann said on Wednesday that he doubted the bill would succeed due to concerns over its threats to personal freedoms: Since I know many of my colleagues in the SPD share my opinion on this question, at this point I would say that this bill will either not pass in this legislative period or will be dramatically changed.


9th May

Update: 50,000 Against...

Petitioning against internet blocking in Germany

A petition against legislation designed to block harmful websites, such as those dedicated to child pornography, has collected more than 50,000 signatures after being posted online four days ago.

That number is the minimum required by German law for parliament to open hearings on the issue.

The petition started by Berlin resident Franziska Heine, is in response to a telemedia bill which was approved by the German cabinet last month, but still requires parliamentary approval.

The proposed legislation would require the vast majority of the country's internet service providers to block child pornography sites, as identified by the German Federal Criminal Office (BKA).

Heine claims the bill threatens the fundamental right to freedom of the internet. They see the BKA list as a tool for censorship.

The petition was placed on the German parliament's website and organisers are hoping to reach 100,000 signatures by June 16.


16th January

Thin End Filter...

Germany to adopt a Clean Feed mandatory internet filter

Germany has announced that it will introduce compulsory Internet censorship starting in March.

The censorship scheme will block access to child pornography, and will follow a similar model to Norway, where the Government decrees a list of child pornography sites to be blocked by ISP’s.

Germany Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen addressed concerns that the censorship regime could exclude other content by confirming that it may be extended: We must not dilute the issue. Child pornography is a problem issue and clearly identifiable. [However] you can not exclude what the federal government may wish to block in the future.


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