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Governing Communications Online - German Perspective

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Presentation by Bernd Holznagel at the 2019 CMPF Summer School for Journalists and Media Practitioners - Covering Political Campaigns in the Age of Data, Algorithms & Artificial Intelligence

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Governing Communications Online - German Perspective

  1. 1. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M. Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Governing Communication online: German Perspective Florence | June 25, 2019
  2. 2. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Outline 1. Background of the NEA 2. Approach of the NEA 3. Content of the NEA 4. Evaluation 2
  3. 3. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Background of the NEA • Increase of “Fake News” and “Hate Speech” 3
  4. 4. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Background of the NEA • Normal case: The actions of intermediaries are causal for illegal contents of third parties (assistance, aid); exception by E- Commerce-Directive: Notice-and-take-down rule facilitates liability, i.e. if known, the content must be deleted, but no monitoring obligation ex-ante • But even this rule, which lowers the standard, is poorly implemented in practice: 1% removal rate by Twitter, 36% Facebook, approx. 90% Google 4
  5. 5. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Approach of the NEA • NEA not primarily aimed at Fake news, but Hate Speech • Choice of control model: Compliance approach • No new deleting obligations 5 Then Minister of Justice – Heiko Maasr(now Secretary of State)
  6. 6. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Scope of Application  Applies to: telemedia service providers that focus on content-sharing (specifically social networks)  Excluded: professional networks, online games, sales platforms, email and messenger services (2-person communication); social networks with less than 2 Mio. users in Germany  What about online newspapers with comment function or large groups on messenger services? 6
  7. 7. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – “unlawful content“ 7 • Sec. 1 (3) NetzDG: “Unlawful content shall be content within the meaning of subsection 1 which fulfils the requirements of the offences described in sections 86, 86a, 89a, 91, 100a, 111, 126, 129 to 129b, 130, 131, 140, 166, 184b in conjunction with 184d, 185 to 187, 201a, 241 or 269 of the Criminal Code.” 3 groups of offenses:  State security (i.e. encouraging the commission of a serious violent offence endangering the state)  Offenses to protect public order (i.e. incitement of hatred)  Provisions on the protection of the personal honor (i.e. insult, defamation)
  8. 8. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – “unlawful content“ (State security) 8 • Section 129a GCC “Formation of terrorist groups”  Subs 1 directed at the commission of enumarated capital offenses (murder, genocide, crime against humanity, or war crime)  Subs 2 other criminal offenses and also intimidation of the public, unlawfully coerce a public authority, impair fundamental political, constitutional, economic, or social structures of a State or an international organization • Section 91 GCC “Encouraging the commission of a serious violent offense endangering the state”  Handing out guides to state-threatening acts
  9. 9. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – “unlawful content“ (public order) 9 • Section 130 GCC “Incitement of hatred“  Hatred against a national, racial, religious group, or a group defined by their ethnic origins (or individual belonging to one of these groups)  Suitable to disturb public peace (subs 1)  Criteria for the suitability for disturbance of public peace are the semantic content, the intensity and scale of the attack, the susceptibility of the public– especially young people–to attacks, and the sensitivity of the group concerned  Dissemination of writings that incite hatred (subs 2)  Publicly approving or trivializing the holocaust (subs 3, 4)
  10. 10. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – ”unlawful content” (personal honor) 10 • Section 185 GCC “Insult“  Attack on the honor of another person by issuing one’s own disregard or disrespect • Section 186 GCC “Defamation”  Assertion or dissemination of unproved facts against a third party, which are capable of causing disregard by others (it is not necessary that the fact is untrue – it is sufficient that the proof of truth is not given) • Section 187 GCC “Intentional Defamation” (→ “fake news”)  The alleged fact has to be untrue
  11. 11. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Dealing with Complaints • Effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints • Requirements for complaints: concrete, suitable as a basis for assessment • This procedure must ensure:  Taking note of the compliant immediately  Deletion within 24 hours if the content is manifestly unlawful  Deletion within 7 days in case of (normal) unlawfulness. The term of 7 days can be exceeded in the following cases:  Calling for opinions to explore the context  Transfer of the decision to the facility of regulated self-regulation  Saving of deleted contents for a period of 10 weeks  The parties involved shall be informed about the decision on the complaint 11
  12. 12. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Reporting obligation • Semi-annual • In German • Reporting obligation only for providers who have more than 100 complaints within a calendar year • Number of deleted contents (and other statistics) • Criteria on which the network operator bases its decision • Publication in the Bundesanzeiger (Federal Gazette) 12
  13. 13. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Regulatory fines • Fines of up to € 50 million (the amount is determined according to the NEA fine guidelines) • Systemic flaws in the complaints procedure  intentional and negligent breaches  not correct, not complete or no providing of a complaints procedure • This is not already given in case of a one-time violation of the obligation to delete (manifestly) illegal contents within 24 hours or 7 days.  NEA fine guidelines: "[...] the individual time limits are only indicators for the fulfilment of this organisational duty and are not independently subject to a fine". • Obtain preliminary court ruling regarding the illegality of a content, § 4 V NetzDG: → legal novelty  "If the administrative authority wishes to base its decision on the fact that unremoved or unblocked content is unlawful within the meaning of § 1 paragraph 3, it shall bring about a court decision on the unlawfulness in advance. "... this court decision is not contestable 13
  14. 14. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Regulatory fines • Incentive to participate in the system of regulated self-regulation:  If the facility of self-regulation comes to the conclusion that the content is not unlawful, the social network must not remove or block it. In such cases, the authority is not entitled to base a fine on the fact that the relevant content was in fact unlawful and had to be blocked or removed. • Other offences of fines, violation of: Obligation to report, appointment of a contact person for service in Germany 14
  15. 15. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Content of the NEA – Contact person in Germany • Lack of contact persons as one of the main problems in the past • Easily recognizable, directly accessible, permanently available • Accounts for social networks with their seat in Germany or abroad • Response to requests for information from domestic law enforcement authorities within 48 hours 15
  16. 16. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Evaluation • Enforcement of individual legal positions by the party obliged to service and the new right to information for the provision of inventory data (§ 14 Paragraph 2 TMG) significantly improved, but mostly affected by hate communication are those in need of protection • Risk of overblocking (high fines, time limit regulation) • Preliminary ruling concerning the illegality of a specific content entails risk of overload for AG Bonn • Practice: 25,000 complaints to the Federal Office of Justice expected, April 2018: 253 complaints • De lege ferenda:  Concentration on a few offenses is required  Introduction of a put back-procedure in order to improve balancing of interests 16
  17. 17. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Semi-annual report by the Networks (2018) 17  Facebook  Complaints (NEA):  2018/1: 886; regarding 1.704 Inhalte  2018/2: 500; regarding 1.048 Inhalte  Deletions  2018/1: 218 succesful complaints; regarding 362 Inhalte  2018/2: 159 succesful complaints; regarding 369 Inhalte  Deletions by Community Standards, not part of NEA- Transparency-repots): ca. 15,000 per month in Germany – from July to September 2018 worldwide in 31 Mio. cases Facebook to action; → … NEA-Complaints-Form hard to find  YouTube  Complaints (NEA, close tie between NEA and Community Standard procedure):  2018/1: 214.827  2018/2: 250.957  Deletions:  2018/1: 58,334  2018/2: 54.644 Twitter Complaints: - 2018/1: 264,818 - 2018/2: 256.462 Deletions: - 2018/1: 28,645 - 2018/2: 23.165
  18. 18. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Conclusions from the reports 18 • Facebook focuses on their own community standards • Danger of Overblocking hard to evaluate • Conclusions by the Media Authority Hamburg / Schleswig-Holstein • improvement in terms of speed of deletion („Overblocking?“) • Most deletions because of insulting posts and comments • The Quota of the deletion of unlawful content is still low… about 30% of filed complaints lead to a deletion • Still no „put-back-Procedure“ according to which in the case of unlawfully removed content the content has to be recovered (put back) Further information: Complaints at the Bundesamt für Justiz: • 714 (2018) • Before the number was estimated at 25.000 complaints a year • This suggests, among other things, that networks can quickly respond to complaints.
  19. 19. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Recent Debates in Germany: role of influencers 19 www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y1lZQsyuSQ • YouTube Video „Die Zerstörung der CDU“ by Rezo launched a few days before the European elections • Almost 15 million views so far • Debate on rules for Influencers
  20. 20. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Further reading  Holznagel/Hemmert-Halswick, Bekämpfung der digitalen Gewalt und Hassdelikte durch das NetzDG („Facebook-Gesetz“), Bonner Rechtsjournal Sonderausgabe 01/2017, S. 6 20
  21. 21. Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) Thank you for your attention! 21 Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM) an der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster Abteilung II Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M. Leonardo-Campus 9 D-48149 Münster Tel: +49 251 83 9038640 Fax: +49 251 90 38644 E-Mail: holznagel@uni-muenster.de

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