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EU to wait for results of German hate speech law before adopting legislation

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EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova on Friday said it was important to now look to Germany and see how it works there before adopting union-wide legislation against hate speech on social media.

Recently, the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) had passed a controversial bill, which would see network operators such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube face fines of up 50 million Euros (57.01 million dollars) if they failed to promptly delete content that breached hate speech laws.

Report says under Germany’s prevailing legal framework, hate speech includes the incitement to kill or be violent, threatening speech, abusive language and sedition.

According to the new legislation, network operators are obliged to offer users an easily recognisable and immediately responsive process to lodge complaints about such offenses.

 

 

Network operators must delete criminal content within 24 hours of receiving complaints, although the window for action is extended to seven days in ambiguous cases.

The bill caused heavy controversy in the run up to its passing, with a diverse range of social media operators, civil rights and interest groups warning about its purported negative implications.

Large internet companies like Facebook have voiced concerns that the German government is unloading responsibility for judging the legality of content onto networks operators.

Facebook said it wanted to see a unified European resolution to the issue rather than 27 national approaches, calling the German law “inappropriate.”

 

 

Civil rights groups have warned that the law might curtail freedom of expression as social media operators would be more inclined to delete ambiguous content out of fear of fines.

Nevertheless, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) believed that the bill which he championed could be a model for other countries.

He was supported by his Austrian colleague Wolfang Brandstetter who said that social media companies were likely to be more careful in their behaviour and understanding towards governmental concerns as a consequence.

The European Commission said it would only contemplate adopting a similar law across the EU if it became clear that ongoing efforts to cooperate with network operators bore less fruit than the German approach. (Xinhua/NAN)

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