German ‘hate-speech’ law tries to regulate Facebook and others – will it work?

Caught in the net(work)In September 2017, a law with the euphonious name ‘Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz’ (‘network enforcement law’) was adopted in Germany. Its goal is to force social networks to remove hate speech and certain other unlawful content within 24 hours in obvious cases, otherwise within 7 days upon being notified. The transition period ended on 31 December 2017 – meaning the new rules can now be enforced. Failure to delete content within the given deadlines can result in heavy administrative fines of up to EUR 50m.A short history of the lawA proposal for the new law was first made in March 2017 in reaction to several high profile cases of fake news that went viral and defamatory speech against migrants on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The law was widely criticized for its lack of clear definitions and its chilling effects, especially by incentivizing ‘overblocking’ and censorship as a precautionary measure to avoid…

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