Police State: German Govt Seeks Power to Ban Social Media Accounts over ‘Digital Violence’

More than 40.000 people joined the Save Your Internet demonstration in Munich on 23.3.2019. The protestors demonstrated against against article 11, 12 and 13 of the copyright reform. They fear an upload filter and censorship. Furthermore critics say, that the reform could be also bad for creatives. (Photo by Alexander …
Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The German government is looking to grant powers to courts to block the social media accounts of citizens who engage in ‘digital violence’.

Earlier this week, the Federal Ministry of Justice called for the creation of a “law against digital violence” under which German courts could ban social media accounts of individual users and even force companies to unmask their identity if the account was anonymous.

The proposal would target those who are deemed to be “notorious violators in the digital space”, particularly anonymous trolls, the Tagesschau broadcaster reported.

The ministry said that the drastic measure of a court banning an account should only be taken if other methods, such as censoring an indivdual post, have been exhausted. The government agency went on to say that the state bans should only be put into place for a “reasonable period of time.”

Ulf Buermeyer, a lawyer and chairman of the dubiously named Society for Civil Liberties, celebrated the government’s censorious plans, saying: “Why should you be able to offend someone?”.

Buermeyer argued that the measure was necessary as merely deleting an offensive post has little impact on deterence as it often has spread widely on the internet before being taken down and therefore blocking accounts may be more impactful in preventing such speech.

The legislation would come on top of the draconian Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) in Germany, which already requires social media companies to remove “illegal content” such as hate speech or insults.

Earlier this month, the Federal Ministry of Justice announced that it had opened up legal proceedings against Twitter over alleged failures to censor hate speech and insults on its platform under the NetzDG legislation, which carries with it a potential fine of up to 50 million euros.

“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 is home to some of the strictest speech codes in the Western world, with it being illegal in the country — on penalty of up to two years in prison — to “violate the human dignity” of others by “insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming a group defined by its national, racial, religious or ethnic origin, ideology, disability or sexual orientation.”

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