Germany Cabinet approves bill for social medial platforms to report hate speech to authorities

The German Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that would require major social media platforms to report hate speech to the police.

Under the current legislation, the 2018 Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), platforms such as Facebook are obliged to remove illegal content within 24 hours, otherwise they would be faced with fines up to 50 million Euros.

The draft law would extend the NetzDG and link the “reporting requirement” in the draft law to the current regulations. This would require social media platforms to delete illegal material and flag content to the Office of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA). Offenses would extend to threats of murder, incitement of terrorist attacks, child pornography and any extremist propaganda.

Transparency reports disclosed by social media sites have given a strong indication of the reach that the draft law could affect. For example, following the first half of 2019, the draft law would have covered 35,000 videos from YouTube.

Germany, complying with European law, would be required to balance freedom of expression and speech with protection from harm online under the European Convention on Human Rights, with fear that platforms may over compensate when eliminating criminal content to avoid fines. However, authorities have confirmed that tougher steps in eradicating extremist behavior makes the draft law necessary to reduce hate speech online.

The bill must now be approved by the German parliament.