German regulators launched a procedure on Tuesday to fine the Elon Musk-owned social platform Twitter for its alleged failure to censor enough “hate speech.”
Berlin’s Federal Office of Justice (BfJ) announced it had launched legal action against Twitter under the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) – a 2018 law aimed at combatting so-called hate speech.
The German regulator accused Twitter of “systemic failure” to follow its legal obligation to remove flagged content deemed illegal “hate speech.”
Social media companies can be fined up to €50 million under the legislation.
“Twitter is obliged to provide an effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints from users about illegal content,” the Federal Office of Justice wrote.
“Among other things, it must immediately take note of reported content, check whether it is illegal within the meaning of the NetzDG, and illegal content, in compliance with the legal deadline of regularly seven days or 24 hours in case of obvious illegality, delete or block access to it,” it added.
“The Internet is not a law-free space,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said.
“Platforms must not simply accept it if their services are misused to distribute criminal content.”
Germany, which has some of the strictest hate speech regulations in the world, it is illegal to “violate human dignity” by “insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming a group defined by its national, racial, religious or ethnic origin, ideology, disability or sexual orientation.”
Those who violate the law face up to two years in prison.
The German government ramped up its crackdown on hate speech following its implementation of the NetzDG law in 2018.
However, free speech advocates condemned the law, warning that forcing social media sites to remove hate speech set a “dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online.”
German director at Human Rights Watch, Wenzel Michalski, said, “It is vague, overbroad, and turns private companies into overzealous censors to avoid steep fines, leaving users with no judicial oversight or right to appeal.”
Facebook was previously fined $2.3 million for similar alleged failures under the same German law.
As Breitbart noted:
The structure through which the German regulator is seeking to fine Twitter is separate from the recently enacted EU-wide Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force earlier this year. Like Germany’s NetzDG law, the Brussels-led legislation will similarly force internet companies to act as enforcers of the bloc’s restrictions on speech.
Those platforms or websites that fail to comply with the law by February of 2024 will face fines from the EU of up to six percent of their global revenue as well as face a potential ban from Europe entirely.
The architect of the censorious legislation, Thierry Breton, a French tech executive turned EU Internal Market Commissioner, has previously warned new Twitter boss Elon Musk that the company runs the risk of being banned in the European Union if he followed through with his pledge of restoring the platform to its free speech roots.