Through a blend of modern and edgy designed stalls, Africa’s food, drink, and hospitality trade expo, Hostex 2024, kicked off on Sunday, March 3rd…
Germany has passed a law that could see social media networks like Facebook and Twitter paying up to €50-million for failing to remove hate speech within 24 hours.
The Network Enforcement Act was drafted to tackle hate speech and fake news. It requires social networks to delete and block unlawful content.
Germany, like South Africa, takes a tough stance on hate speech in part due to its history. It has cracked down in recent years after the refugee crisis saw many taking strong anti-immigrant stances.
The new law will require networks to delete illegal content within 24 hours. Failing to comply will lead to a €5-million fine, which could rise to €50-million. In less obvious cases, the companies will have a week to decide whether or not it should be removed.
Organisations like Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have criticised the bill, arguing that it amounts to censorship.
Germany, like South Africa, takes a tough stance on hate speech in part due to its history
Elodie Vialle, the head of RSF’s Journalism and Technology desk, said that the law would delegate the duties of the justice system to private companies, “as if the Internet giants can replace independent and impartial courts”.
Other criticisms have targeted the fact that “illegal content” is not well-enough defined.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who introduced the bill, says that government is needed to pressure social networks into action, as they will not be incentivised to remove hate speech otherwise.
He argues that “networks aren’t taking the complaints of their own users seriously enough”.
“Freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins,” he said in an address before the parliamentary vote. “Where does freedom remain when people who think differently on the net are offended, threatened or attacked with death threats without consequences?”
“To protect the freedom of expression, we must prevent a climate of fear and intimidation.”