Freedom of speech has been effectively abolished online in Germany, as the country has begun enforcing strict censorship laws designed to prohibit the expression of “hate” online.
The Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) mandates all social networking platforms with more than 2 million members must investigate and delete “illegal” content within one day of a complaint being received.
Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram are among the sites which fall under the purview of the new law.
The fine for failing to delete illegal content can be as high as 50 million euros.
Deputy leader Beatrix von Storch of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party, which opposes the surging Islamization of the country under the government of Angela Merkel, has been called the first victim of the new law.
On New Year’s Eve, von Storch criticized Cologne police for expressing holiday wishes in Arabic, claiming they were trying to appease “barbarians.”
Cologne was the site of an especially notorious mass sexual assault against German women by Muslim migrants two years ago.
Von Storch was temporarily blocked from Twitter after making the comment. An investigation is reportedly taking place.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have set up new reporting systems to allow volunteer commissars to complain about speech they don’t like.
Facebook has also hired several hundred new staff members in order to monitor complaints.
Reporters Without Borders is among the groups which opposes the law.
“The short deadline for removal, coupled with the threat of heavy fines, will very likely drive social networks to remove more content than is legally justified,” argued Christian Mihr, the group’s director for Germany. “Even journalistic publications will face a real danger of being affected by this kind over-blocking without due process.”
The German government has reportedly hired 50 staff members enforce the new law.
German justice minister Heiko Maas has warned, “Freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins.”
The European Commission is also urging the implementation of European wide standards.
The move by the German government comes amidst a larger crackdown on free speech by large social networking companies.
However, in the United States, it is the tech companies themselves who are moving to restrict speech, without the threat of official action by governments. As WND reported, Twitter, Facebook and Google have all been caught censoring Christians and political conservatives while tolerating violations of online rules by liberals and progressives.
Some argue the only way to preserve freedom of speech online would be for companies such as Facebook and Google to be regulated as public utilities which would then have to enforce First Amendment protections.
Among the reported advocates of such an approach is Breitbart head Steve Bannon. And other leading conservatives such as Tucker Carlson are warning America about the dangers of companies such as Google gaining too much power.
“Google seems to be letting politics dictate who is allowed to make money from their platform,” he warned.