June 19, 2020

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

The Bundestag has passed a law to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime. Accordingly, in the future there will be significant punishments against hatred and agitation on the Internet and in social media. Even the threat of bodily harm and sexual assault will in future count as a criminal offense, which has previously only been the case with death threats. This can result in imprisonment of up to two years.

"Anyone who rushes and threatens must face charges and convictions," said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). "These are determined steps against enemies of human beings and democracies that are fueling a dangerous climate of violence." According to Lambrecht, the law serves to protect all people who are threatened and defamed by racists and right-wing extremists.

AfD and Left voted against the law, FDP and Greens abstained. It is good that this law exists and the envisaged obligation to report is good, but "that mass user data goes to the BKA without a previous legal check (...) and stays there for the time being (...), that is not okay" said the Green Bundestag member Renate Künast in the debate in the Bundestag. That is why her group had tabled an amendment.

Lambrecht referred to the murder of the Kassel government president Walter Lübcke, the anti-Semitic terrorist attack in Halle and the racist murders in Hanau. "We are sending out the very clear signal that we are not accepting these actions and are strongly opposing them," she said. Another central point in the new law is the protection of local politicians. The fact of defamation and defamation against persons of political life should therefore also apply to acts against persons up to the municipal level. Anti-Semitic motives of a perpetrator should be given special consideration when sentencing. In addition, people who work in emergency rooms should also be given special protection against threats and acts of violence.

In future, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will not only have to delete certain posts, but must also report them immediately to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). In order to quickly identify the perpetrators, they must also pass on IP addresses. According to Lambrecht, this should help the authorities to quickly find the originators of hate comments online and to prosecute them. "And that's why we are now taking this step to make it clear: No one who rushes online, who spreads hatred, can be sure," she said.

Source: zeit