Social networks must report crimes

Social networks must report crimes

Symbolic image of hate on the Internet © Asiandelight (shutterstock)

Hate and incitement on the Internet will be prosecuted more consistently and punished more severely in the future. The Bundestag has now passed a package of laws to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime.

The Bundestag passed a law to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime, especially on the Internet. The regulation was passed with the votes of the governing coalition against the votes of the AfD and the Left, with the abstention of the FDP and the Greens. The aim is to improve law enforcement and combat the brutalization of communication.

According to Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), the reform is "of central importance for the defense of our democracy and our constitutional state". The Greens, Left and FDP accused the regulation of violating the protection of personal data. The AfD saw the regulation as a restriction of freedom of expression.

Criminal content must be reported to Federal Criminal Police Office

The law obliges social network providers to report certain criminal content to the Federal Criminal Police Office if there are concrete indications that a criminal offense has been committed. Furthermore, child pornography content is to be better recorded. In future, disparagement of the memory of the deceased will also be considered unlawful. This is a reaction to the experience after the assassination of Kassel District President Walter Lubcke in 2019.

The list of offenses will be expanded to include "threat of dangerous bodily harm" and approval of crimes that have not yet been committed. Public insults are to be punishable by a maximum of two years' imprisonment. The offense of defamation and slander against persons in political life is also to apply to acts against persons up to the municipal level. Anti-Semitic motives of a perpetrator are to be given special consideration in the sentencing process.

Several speakers recalled the murder of Walter Lubcke, the anti-Semitic terrorist attack in Halle, the racist murders in Hanau and the high number of other right-wing extremist acts of violence.

Was right-wing extremism underestimated?

Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU) said that the brutalization on the net threatened the fundamental order of freedom. Benjamin Strasser (FDP) complained that right-wing extremism had been underestimated in recent years. At the same time, he expressed concerns, for example, about the obligation to hand over passwords. Niema Movassat (Die Linke) also criticized "data collection".

Further the law has a wrong beginning, since punishment aggravations alone do not keep offenders from the act. Renate Kunast (Greens) lacked an overall strategy that included prevention, victim protection and counseling centers, for example. She also complained that "masses of user data" were given to the BKA without legal examination.

Stephan Brandner (AfD) accused the law of using terms such as hate and incitement to adopt the language of the GDR and massively restrict freedom of expression in Germany.

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