It Took Only Three Days For Germany's New Hate Speech Law To Cause Collateral Damage

from the carpet-bombing,-but-for-speech dept

Germany's new hate speech law just went into effect at the beginning of the year and it's already paying off. But not in the way German government officials expected, nor in the way anyone who isn't in the German government wanted it to.

The law is a bad one: it criminalizes certain speech, which is already problematic. The problems go much deeper than that, though. Instead of targeting German citizens who post illegal speech, the government targets American social media platforms, demanding the removal of illegal posts in less than 24 hours on the pain of up to €50m fines. On top of that, employees of service providers tasked with removals can also be fined €5m personally for not reacting fast enough to government demands.

So, it's bad. And determining what is or isn't illegal is in the eyes of government beholders. Faced with the prospect of expensive fines, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are probably not going to be second-guessing many government requests for content deletion. Worse, it's going to encourage service providers to be proactive, amplifying the underlying vagueness of the German "hate speech" law. False positives are a given. We just didn't expect the collateral damage to occur so quickly.

A German satirical magazine’s Twitter account was blocked after it parodied anti-Muslim comments, the publication said on Wednesday, in what the national journalists association said showed the downside of a new law against online hate speech.

Titanic magazine was mocking Beatrix von Storch, a member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, who accused police of trying “to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men” by putting out a tweet in Arabic.

Twitter briefly suspended her account and prosecutors are examining if her comments amount to incitement to hatred.

Titanic magazine published its send-up late on Tuesday, in a tweet purporting to be from von Storch to the police, saying: “The last thing that I want is mollified barbarian, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men.”

This was exactly what journalists (and satirists) were warning against as the hate speech law was being pushed through the legislature: collateral damage. Not only could the law potentially do harm to journalism, it was perfectly capable of damaging other forms of speech, like satire.

The magazine's writers are shocked at this turn of events. They likely didn't expect an American social media company to be making judgment calls on speech ahead of German censors. Prosecutors are "examining" the politician's comments for possible illegality, but no one seems too eager to explain why Twitter nuked a satirical account as well. The Titanic's publishers say Chancellor Merkel herself promised writers the law wouldn't have this effect. But here we are, observing this exact effect in motion -- one completely expected by everyone asking their representatives for a better, more narrowly-crafted law.

Laws regulating speech need light touches and deft craftsmanship. They rarely, if ever, get them. Germany's new speech law didn't even make it a week before it started taking out innocent bystanders. And the law's just getting started.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 3:34am

    Is this the instance of collateral damage, or the first that has hit someone with enough of a public profile for it to gain attention?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:54am

      Re:

      Does it really matter if it took the three days the article claims or merely one or two days for the hypothetical lower-profile account to get nuked?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:20am

        Re: Re:

        Yes it matters, as only the higher profile accounts stand any chance getting a bad decision reversed. Ordinary citizens just have to suffer the iniquities of the system in silence, especially if they lose their accounts.

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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 3:38am

    "Germany's new speech law didn't even make it a week before it started taking out innocent bystanders"

    I'd go even further - it apparently didn't just take out innocent bystanders, it took out people who were specifically *opposing* the type of speech the law was supposedly intended to curb. While I don't think it was great satire from what I can read (though something might be lost in translation), satire can be an important weapon against such things, sometimes far more effective at exposing idiocy than banning ever could.

    They didn't take out nearby civilians standing too close to the battle, so to speak, they took out soldiers in their own army.

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  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:18am

    Rigorous enforcement good way to mobilize repeal of bad law

    Platforms should set their bots to nuke everything even slightly questionable, replacing it with black space enclosing white text (in German), something like "blocked to avoid potential liability under NetzDG".

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    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:44am

      Re: Rigorous enforcement good way to mobilize repeal of bad law

      Didn't think of that. That's actually a pretty good idea. Could mobilize a massive backlash.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:24am

      Re: Rigorous enforcement good way to mobilize repeal of bad law

      Content filters don't work. They'd have to block everything to make sure nobody could come up with a workaround.

      Maybe that's the point.

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  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:39am

    Rather than nuking accounts, why not just nuke service to Germany? I didn't think other countries could enforce any law on a US citizen.

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    • identicon
      ryuugami, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:51am

      Re:

      Uh, of course they can, if the US citizen in question wants to do business in those countries. Just as any non-US company has to respect all of the ridiculous US censorship laws if they want to do business in the US.

      Companies can avoid that law if they do as you suggest and pull out of Germany -- if Germany isn't following the US/Canada/etc in declaring that all of the Internet has to follow their laws, of course. The companies will presumably do that once they conclude that the costs of compliance have become too burdensome. Until then, they'll keep blockin' and people will keep backlashin'.

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      • icon
        Basketcase Software (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re:

        I'll have to research it but there is U.S. law against this. It's also a direct violation of the treaty behind the DMCA which I believe Germany is a signatory. Remember the "safe harbor" provision? This can be justification for the filing of a complaint in the EU courts as well.
        But Twitter, etc. are private platforms and not bound to respect free speech rights of any poster. Also the posters here in question are German citizens and reside in that country. They do not enjoy the protections of U.S. law for this; only German and EU law.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If these fines and cost of business are just to much for American company's to deal with, they will just pull out. Bye, bye Twitter, Facebook and really anything that has public comments as anything could easily trigger a fine if not taken down quickly enough.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'll have to research it but there is U.S. law against this. It's also a direct violation of the treaty behind the DMCA which I believe Germany is a signatory.

          The DMCA is not a treaty.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Basketcase Software (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Correct. That's why I said a violation of the treaty BEHIND DMCA. That's for the additional direct link. I was making a quick response and didn't provide any myself (being at work and all I didn't have much time to look things up).

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              • identicon
                ryuugami, 8 Jan 2018 @ 12:32pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Would that treaty even apply in this case? Unless I'm mistaken, the treaty is about imaginary^W intellectual property, and any safe harbor provisions would be exclusively IP-related. And "hate speech" is usually not a subcategory of "intellectual property", so it shouldn't fall under the treaty, I think?

                (Note, I think that the law is insane and should be abolished. Devil's advocate, etc.)

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                • icon
                  Basketcase Software (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 3:06pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I did forget about the IP issue. Thanks. It's been awhile since I read up on the topic but there are other protections under U.S. law that protect a company from action by a third party (like posters of comments in forums like this one). Germany might be able to go after company branches under its law that are within its borders but if it is U.S. based they would still have to go through U.S. courts to take any action on the parent companies - where ARE protected by U.S. law.
                  For the record "hate speech" is actually protected under U.S. law.

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  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:39am

    Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

    PaulT - you are very correct.

    Hugo S Cunningham - I understand the point of the joke, but I'm afraid that will just push the discussion off of the large platforms and further divide and isolate the conversation.

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    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:50am

      Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

      So where are Facebook users going to go? Resurrect the corpse of MySpace?

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

        Are you honestly saying that Facebook have no competition other than MySpace? That would be news to a lot of sites...

        That's silly enough to begin with, but I do also remember a time when people were saying that sites like MySpace and LiveJournal had essentially cornered the market, and new upstarts like Facebook wouldn't have a chance at capturing a market that was already monopolised. You can see how that turned out.

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        • icon
          OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

          Like it or not, for now Facebook has a huge share of that type of social media. I had no problem with MySpace. Don't even know why Facebook managed to take over. How was it any better? All I know is most my friends quit using it & moved to Facebook. In a few years Facebook could be the Betamax & another giant will arise.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

            "Like it or not, for now Facebook has a huge share of that type of social media."

            Yes, it does. They also have a lot of competitors, and most people active in social media already use several of them at the same time as Facebook. Communities vary, but most people I know use some combination of Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn and Twitter for various reasons, and I know further outliers who use less well known sites. Many only keep a Facebook account around because that's where the largest number of people they know are, but use other services for their day to day activity.

            While Facebook has the lion's share of primary attention, they're not a monopoly and there's still room for other services to fill in gaps.

            "Don't even know why Facebook managed to take over. How was it any better?"

            It was far better looking and easier to use than most of its competitors, and it was easy to find people you knew in real life if they used it. It generally encouraged connecting with people you actually knew, wheres too many people on MySpace were trying to connect with as many people as they could. Each page was nicely laid out and good to look at, whereas MySpace was a hideous mess of templates and eye-gouging garishness. Facebook generally offered a service that was nicer and easier to use to connect with people you actually cared about, especially when it came to photo sharing and the like.

            There's probably other reasons depending on who you talk to, but I ditched MySpace as soon as I discovered Facebook primarily for those reasons.

            "In a few years Facebook could be the Betamax & another giant will arise"

            Quite possibly. So why the sarcastic comment I replied to implying that people wouldn't go elsewhere?

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            • icon
              OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

              You must of misunderstood. I agree they can go anywhere but most will stay with the winner of the day. I fail to see the appeal of Twitter is. Every time I tried to express anything meaningful I'm out of characters when I'm barely started. Things get so spread around there, who can keep up with it. I've kept my friends on Facebook mostly to people I actually know. When I keep seeing a friend of a friend posting things I enjoy I will friend them. I don't needs thousands of followers. On Facebook I get a constant stream of friend requests from people I have no clue who they are or ever read one of their posts. They just get their rocks off on bragging how huge their lists are.

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

                "You must of misunderstood. I agree they can go anywhere but most will stay with the winner of the day"

                Urgh... must *have*. Sorry, that's a real bugbear of mine.

                Anyway, I just have to refer back to something I've already said - it's not an either/or, binary choice. Many people use more than one social media service. Many will use them for different reasons, choosing the service based on what they wish to do at that moment. If changes force a certain type of conversation off Facebook and a competitor is able to pick it up, they will, just as they currently use other services to share right now. If a person decides they prefer the way they share photos on Snapchat, that doesn't mean they'll suddenly stop using Facebook, most use both. If a person wishes to use LinkedIn for work-related stuff and Facebook for personal use, they can and will do that without issue.

                "Every time I tried to express anything meaningful I'm out of characters when I'm barely started. Things get so spread around there, who can keep up with it"

                Twitter's not really meant for long form conversation, so you are probably just doing it wrong if you're trying to do it there. I personally use it less than Facebook, but I find it a good way to follow companies/celebrities/news/etc without it cluttering my timeline. I have a few people on there I know IRL, mostly people who don't use Facebook for some reason, but it's mostly a general news source for me. Sometimes I will take part in conversation, but outside of communicating directly with a few friends I find it more valuable just lurking.

                On the other hand, some of those friends will have long conversations using it. I suppose it depends on whether you're more comfortable with conversations in quick chunks (as many people are used to having with SMS, etc), or if you need to write a few paragraphs to get your point cross. If you need the latter, maybe it's not just suitable for your needs, but that's OK no site is for everyone.

                "On Facebook I get a constant stream of friend requests from people I have no clue who they are or ever read one of their posts. They just get their rocks off on bragging how huge their lists are."

                You see, I never have that on Facebook, and I've been there for 10 years. I maybe get 5-10 requests a month, mostly new people I've recently met or acquaintances of existing "friends" (I have around 400 on there). I occasionally get a spambot request, but I just refuse if they're not friends of people I actually know or if I haven;t met them myself. If you're getting a lot of random requests, I'd suggest you're either rather unlucky or you have something else initialising contact (e.g. you're already following spambots or you're a member of a group that's getting harvested).

                MySpace, on the other hand, was just full of people trying to boast about how many "friends" they had without ever wishing to communicate with them. Again, one of the reasons I left was because it was so much easier finding people I actually wanted to keep in touch with on Facebook. There could be other reasons why you're having problems, but from my experience the "collect em all" mentality was much more prevalent when MySpace was a novelty than it is with Facebook. Hell, I know bar workers who add pretty much everyone they have a decent conversation with who still don't get anywhere near the levels I remember over on MySpace.

                Anyway, the point is that different social platforms satisfy different needs, and there's really no reason that a person can't use different platforms depending on their need at the time. Your experience might vary for whatever reason, but there is competition, especially for areas where some find the Facebook experience lacking.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:38am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

                > I fail to see the appeal of Twitter is.

                Then you're obviously not US Presidential material.

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                • icon
                  OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:05pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

                  Yeah, You're right. If I was going to start a nuclear war I would want more than 140 characters. If you want to know what Trump is tweeting, just watch Fox & Friends. He tweets about most things they say even before the show is over. Trump's approval ratings are dropping, but there are still millions of hard core supporters that will stay with him no matter how batshit crazy he gets.

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                  • identicon
                    Wendy Cockcroft, 9 Jan 2018 @ 2:22am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

                    I think he's an idol to them: they worship him in the hope that he'll deliver what they want and he plays to that by pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:56am

        Re: Re: Re: PaulT & Hugo S Cunningham

        Somewhere even better - meatspace.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:49am

    "not in the way German government officials expected"

    I'm not so sure about that.

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  • identicon
    Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:09am

    So this account satirically tweeted hate speech?

    Then yes, it should have been nuked, and for two reasons.

    The first is Popehat's goatfucker law: "Even if you fuck goats to prove a larger point, you're still a goatfucker." (https://twitter.com/popehat/status/678959439442010113)

    This account tweeted hate speech satirically, but it still tweeted hate speech. It may have fucked goats satirically, but it fucked goats.

    The second reason is that if satirical hate speech is allowed then the racists would adopt that tone, rendering actual hate speech indistinguishable from satire. (Or the racists will claim satire as a defense, making it impossible to tell the difference.)

    I don't see the problem here.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:27am

      Re:

      It is better to let ten goatfuckers go free than to convict one innocent goatherder.

      Or something like that.

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      • identicon
        Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:49am

        Re: Re:

        It's not about letting anyone go free, it's about letting them shout vile and hurtful things in the public square that drive other people out of said square.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          While I understand what you are saying I disagree.

          Context is always important in understanding speach. There is a lot one can do to twist intent and meaning by robbing it of context. Much of satire, transcribed to maintain exact wording or description but deprived of context, can come across as supporting or furthering what is being mocked. In effect this ruling bans satire or mocking of behavior that should be mocked to demonstrate how absurd it really is, simply because it can be robbed of context to cast it as promotion.

          Is having a racist in a film promoting hate speach because the character, to use your analogy, 'still screwed a goat'? Is publishing an article illegal because it quotes hate speach someone else used? What about talking publically about things someone else said, or satarizing someone by drawing a cartoon of them saying something outlandishly hateful to emphasize their characature?

          In all of these cases, they still as you put it, screwed a goat. Should they too be outlawed?

          I say no. All the above serves to do is drive such things into a space where it cannot be spoken out or argued against. Where it can fester and grow unchallenged.

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          • identicon
            Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I would argue that context (satire / not satire) is irrelevant in this situation. It is entirely subjective, which means you will have racists seeing a satirical tweet as the a non-satirical tweet.

            I have seen tweets from people who I knew were joking which were taken seriously by at least some readers, and the same will be true for racist tweets. (This is why I don't make certain kinds of jokes any more.)

            Also, your "what about-isms" are irrelevant to this issue. Social media is the public square. Those other mediums are not.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              How are those other mediums not the public square? "Talking publicly" kind of explicitly means 'in public'. And all of his other examples don't take place in private. Movies are distributed publicly, published articles are publicly available in newspapers and online, and the same goes for cartoons.

              There's also a big difference between satire (even that which resembles hate speech) and what Martin did. I doubt even Ken White would agree with you that the Twitter account deserved to get banned.

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              • identicon
                Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                If you can't tell the difference then you need to sit out of this discussion until you understand the concept of the public square.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:22am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You seem to be fond of making bold statements as fact without supporting your argument.

                  The definition of 'public square' honestly has nothing to do with the internet or social media, and in fact is defined as an open area at the meeting of two or more streets.

                  However, thanks to context, something you seem quite dismissive of, I understand your intent. It's why I was very careful to provide only examples of very public activities, indeed likely to be very relevant to social media. See my direct reply to your comment for supporting arguments to that end.

                  Try less condescending insults and more arguments.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You're just mad I pointed out your mistake in what defines "public". :)

                  As someone else already stated, the strict definition of public square is irrelevant when talking about social media and the internet. If you meant strictly a forum where people were allowed to interactively speak to each other, I could see where movies and cartoons wouldn't strictly fit that, but on the other hand, people talk about movies and cartoons long after they come out and in more than just one type of forum so while they may not be a platform for speech themselves, they certainly encourage and provide topics for a public forum.

                  Also, if you force people to sit out of discussions until you feel they "understand the concept" they will never learn and is the exact opposite of what you term as a "public square".

                  Finally, other than parents to their direct biological/adopted offspring under the age of 18, when has telling some one to shut up ever stopped them?

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                • identicon
                  SekhemDragon, 9 Jan 2018 @ 8:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Schindler's List is Nazi propaganda by that standard.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:16am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I am interested to know how my 'what about-isms' take place outside the public square, or are irrelevant to social media.

              Films, comics, cartoons, discussions, all of these things are incredibly relevant on social media. Embedding, tweeting, retweeting, sharing, posting... every example I gave finds its way onto social media. This is without pointing out that I only gave examples of things that ARE public, whether online or not.

              Not to mention, if you think that this law going unchallenged, these cases punishing satire setting precedent allowed to stay on the books won't be used to gradually ratchet up enforcement in other venues you have not paid much attention to how laws grow and propagate.

              'Well we punish satire on social media, but these vile people still spread their could-be-taken-out-of-context-filth in movies. In comedy clubs. In newspapers. We already stamp it out in social media, it only makes sense we stamp it out elsewhere.'

              It's an easy grand-standing soap-box for a politician to use to get into office, or try to bolster their public image, or just to lash out because they are incapable of understanding context.

              I respect that we may disagree on this matter, but I have seen all of this before, and I fear I will see it again and again throughout my lifetime. I really don't want to end up in a world where making fun of some hateful asshole gets me treated the same as that hateful asshole just because other hateful assholes can't understand they are being mocked or spoken out against.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I would argue that context (satire / not satire) is irrelevant in this situation. It is entirely subjective, which means you will have racists seeing a satirical tweet as the a non-satirical tweet.

              Your argument here says it would be better to ignore context and censor hate speech in any form. You have just argued for ContentID.

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            • identicon
              Thad, 8 Jan 2018 @ 2:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I would argue that context (satire / not satire) is irrelevant in this situation. It is entirely subjective

              I can't speak to German law, but in the US there are well-established legal guidelines for identifying satire. I see you're a fan of Popehat; here are some posts there that might help:

              Satire Is Satire Even When People Fall For It, Mr. Jarvis

              Satire vs. Potentially Defamatory Factual Statements: An Illustration

              The First Amendment Protects Satire Even When Reckless, Stupid, Or Ideology-Addled People Fall For It

              D.C. Circuit: First Amendment Trumps Birthers, Stupid People, Walruses

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The word vile is hate speech.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          How does one block people on a public square? Most social media sites, if someone says something you don't like, you can block them and you never have to see the things they say again. So that doesn't really fly as a justification for this law. This isn't about stopping people from being "driven out." It's about making people stop talking.

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          • identicon
            nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No one should be subjected to abuse just for stepping out into public, but even if that weren't the case your suggestion is impractical. You're talking about blocking thousands, if not millions, of accounts.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not about letting anyone go free, it's about letting them shout vile and hurtful things in the public square that drive other people out of said square.

          No its not. That would not require this kind of law - and in any case governments have never been interested in that.

          What this is about is (like all forms of censorship throughout the ages) to protect a lie that is useful to the government.

          We saw exactly the same when some politicians, sympathetic to the cause of copyright maximalists, tried to say that the pirate party should not be allowed to hold its views.

          I'll leave you to work out for yourself what the lie is this time around.

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          • identicon
            Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I have no idea what you are talking about.

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Seems you haven't been paying attention then...

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I have no idea what you are talking about.

              Thar probably nmeans the lie is something that you believe.

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Or, it means you're really not good at getting across what you're trying to say.

                I *think* I understand, but you are being rather unclear for anyone not already in the anti-government camp.

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                • identicon
                  Nate, 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:02am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  His "I know you know I know, wink wink" depend on insider knowledge that I lack, yes.

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                • icon
                  Richard (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:24am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Ok I'll be more direct.

                  Governments aren't really interested in avoiding hurting people's feelings. They are interested in getting re-elected (or maintaining power by more direct and forceful ways).

                  Generally this means maintaining a narrative in the public square. Usually this involves making the public believe a lie.

                  For example the North Korea is desperate to maintain the illusion that its people are actually better off than those in the South.

                  Something similar is true for all totalitarian governments but also for governments in democratic countries, although in the latter case the mechanism are usually more subtle.

                  For example Margaret Thatcher and John Major stayed in power for 18 years with the lie "there is no alternative" - propagated by the Murdoch press in the UK.

                  All governments are prepared to kill or allow people to be killed in order to maintain power. Do you really think this law is about not allowing people's feelings to be hurt?

                  No, all censorship is always about protecting a lie that the government needs to protect.

                  In this case the first half of the lie is that there are no negative consequences to Merkel's policy of allowing huge numbers of mostly muslim migrants to enter the country.

                  The second half is that anybody who questions the policy is automatically a neo-nazi extremist. The second half of the lie is most important since it almost guarantees that only genuine neo-nazi extremists will dare to speak out. They then become easy fodder for the law.

                  The fact that large numbers of Germans voted for AfD in spite of this has provoked this law - because Merkel is scared that the people have stopped believing her lies.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 2:19am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Thanks for the explanation, although I don't necessarily agree I hope it helps Nate understand what you were going for.

                    I hope you remember this in future - if someone doesn't get what you're saying, they might not be being coy or feigning ignorance. You might genuinely not be saying enough for you to be understood by the person you're talking to. Offering a little more explanation is usually the better response rather than saying they must be biased themselves.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:54am

      Re:

      If you don't see the problem with government censorship, you are the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      @ Nate

      Alt-right-wingers already use satire to get their points across. Behaving cartoonishly is supposed to make them look harmless, thereby winning over converts.

      Banning them is lazy; if you can't counter them you don't have an argument.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:42am

      Re:

      Even if you fuck goats to prove a larger point, you're still a goatfucker.

      Such vile language. You should be banned.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 8 Jan 2018 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      ...are you seriously quoting Ken White to defend hate speech laws?

      Have you ever read anything Ken White has written besides that one tweet?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      Goatfucker implies that I routinely fuck goats. If it was only once, then I am simply a man who once fucked a goat. I baked cookies once, but you don't see people calling me a baker.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 2:37am

      Re:

      Satire often takes the form if mimicking whoever you are mocking & amp it up to ridiculous levels. I'm a big fan of Tom Leher, the greatest satire singer ever. If you fail to see the mockery in his lyrics you you would conclude he hates blacks, he likes poisoning pigeons in the park, Praising Wernher von Braun for being a former Nazi who developed the rockets for the bombing of London, our military are all incompetent idiots, He loves hard core pornography, and many other horrendous viewpoints. Listening to his records you can hear the laughter from the audience so I don't think you could misunderstand but some automated bot would certainly flag him. Satirizing hate speech would have to contain some of that speech.

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    • identicon
      Pizuz, 9 Jan 2018 @ 8:50pm

      Response to: Nate on Jan 8th, 2018 @ 5:09am

      The Tweet was mistranslated. It played with the stupidity of a certain far-right politician who, in a blatant display of ignorance, wanted to ban arabic numerals.

      The Tweet asked why the police had their emergency phone number in arabic numerals, which would have appeased the aforementioned ’rapist mob‘.

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  • identicon
    YaTOG, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:42am

    Turn off the services in Germany, it's the only way to be sure...

    Seriously, turn off all Social media for the entire country and be done with it.

    No content fed into Germany, no need to worry about the law, that will last all of about 2 weeks before the populace overturns it.

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    • identicon
      kallethen, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:55am

      Re: Turn off the services in Germany, it's the only way to be sure...

      Actually, I agree. Take the Google News approach. Pull out services in the country and very publicly state that this law is the reason.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:29am

      Re: Turn off the services in Germany, it's the only way to be sure...

      Anything with a comment section you'll have to turn the comments OFF also. After all, someone might say something that will get you a big fine.

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    • icon
      NeghVar (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:31am

      Re: Turn off the services in Germany, it's the only way to be sure...

      I have the same opinion. But from a business perspective, you have to weigh total fines for non-compliance vs. revenue generated in the country

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  • identicon
    YaTOG, 8 Jan 2018 @ 5:49am

    The law itself is hate speech.

    The more I think about this, the more clear it becomes that the law itself is hate speech.
    The law "hates" hate speech, which makes it hate speech that needs to be nuked.

    Let us know when Germany nukes the law.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:53am

    So, what would have been considered hate speech under the 3rd Reich?

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    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:04am

      Re:

      So, what would have been considered hate speech under the 3rd Reich?

      Would? Was, more to the point. Simply, anything against "Germany" or "Germanic people" or the Nazi party, or the government.

      Certainly nothing pertaining to invalids, gypsies, homosexuals, foreigners[1] and Jews.

      [1]: Note this applies to some pre-DNA-testing notion of origin, with rather absurd fantasy-constructs of "race" and "heritage".

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re:

        "[1]: Note this applies to some pre-DNA-testing notion of origin, with rather absurd fantasy-constructs of "race" and "heritage"."

        I occasionally see stories of neo-Nazi types who aren't happy with the results when they have a DNA / heritage test. Those are always amusing, especially when the "master race" they claim to represent is obviously not reflected in their outward appearance from the get go.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I seem to recall that this was true of Hitler himself!

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 2:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yep, that is always the sad comic irony of the whole thing. If they got the pure Aryan society they wanted, few of the Nazi leaders would have been able to have been part of it, they'd have been in the gas chambers as quickly as their own victims.

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 8 Jan 2018 @ 7:49am

    Go Deutschland

    Ve used to have vays of making you talk. Now ve have vays of making you shut up!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:11am

    "Kept you waiting Huh?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 8:28am

    Downward spiral

    If countries are allowed to push their laws globally, then this will lead to the whole internet being censored down to the strictest country's laws. US starts getting demands from Mulsim-run countries to have people who have mocked Muhammad extradited to their country for execution for their insult to Muhammad. Where will the line be drawn?

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    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 10:22am

      Re: Downward spiral

      I was just about to mention this.
      How long will it be until other countries follow Germany's lead and threaten companies with huge fines?
      Is it still considered government censorship when companies are choosing to take down posts to avoid the potential of a 50 million Euro fine?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:28am

      Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

      >>> "If countries are allowed to push their laws globally, then this will lead to the whole internet being censored down to the strictest country's laws."

      To begin with, that's simply not true. Corporations that wish to do business in any given country go in knowing that must obey the country's laws, period. Facebook / Twitter / Google don't get advantage of "exceptionalism" for any cause.

      Second, it's well past time for some top-down authoritarianism to suppress idiots, period. We are lucky to be born in ease with opportunity but all some wish to do is destroy. It's not difficult to identify and tamp down egregious cases. Nor is it unusual, "draconian", or whatever adjective you prefer, it's just NORMAL FOR CIVILIZATION.

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      • icon
        NeghVar (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 1:31pm

        Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

        Countries such as France which have a "Right to be Forgotten" law are trying to extend their law globally because if they cannot, then the law is pointless because French citizens can simply go to google.com instead of google.fr. Google complied by applying the right to be forgotten to their servers in France. France was not satisfied and is continuing to fine Google per day until France's right to be forgotten law is applied to all Google servers.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 4:53pm

        Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

        I thought the whole point of your tirades was against the global expansion and application of law. Now you're for it?

        More typical out_of_the_blue "fuck this site I read, I will disagree with whatever Masnick says" philosophy.

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      • icon
        xmp125a (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 3:49am

        Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

        Do you even understand how Internet works? There is no "doing business in that Country" if I set up server in USA and provide services there. It is not my responsibility that people from countries with fkd up regimes that do not understand tech fundamentals, access my website and use my services!

        Any attempts to "stop doing business in the country X" are based on very flaw-prone IP geolocation technology which is 1) not even standardized, but provided by multiple differing databases 2) it is getting more and more difficult to implement since IPV4 address blocks are traded around the world and IPV4 address space is getting more and more fragmented 3) it is getting impossible to define what is "in Germany". Is it Spanish citizen, visiting Germany with his spanish phone (which routes IP traffic through his Spain telecom provider when roaming) in Germany or in Spain?

        And I did not even discuss the myriad of VPN and virtual credit card options which can make anyone appear as basically anywhere in the world.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 5:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

          While I understand the points you're making, I'd look a little more into how handsets connect & route traffic while roaming as you seem to be confused as to where the identifying information would be applied to the connection.

          Also, with the major point, it's more about outward appearance than total block anyway. This isn't the movie studios, trying in vain to extract the maximum revenue from each country (and failing, while losing lots of money through fragmentation). This would simply be the country saying "we don't officially support country X", losing opportunities for other businesses in that country while actually not minding if a German citizen connected.

          The best example of this would be the way Google News operates in Spain. Officially, they don't do business in Spain. If you go there and set the country drop down to Spain, you'll get a message about it not being available. However, while located in Spain, there's nothing to stop me from selecting another country and continuing to use the site. All that happens is that as Spanish publishers have chosen to refuse to work with Google, they don't appear in the resulting pages. Google aren't blocking users, they're blocking the publishers who sued them for sending them free traffic.

          It would be the same here. It would be about making a point, not about trying desperately to stop everyone passing through German soil.

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          • icon
            xmp125a (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 10:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

            I checked and I was myself pretty amused that while roaming in UK, my geolocation resolved to my telecom operator in my home country with the IP located in my home country.

            Perhaps we do not understand each other.

            You are right, Google making point is of course far easier to do, similarly how they did in Spain and much easier that Netflix & Hulu's cat and mouse game with VPN providers.

            On the other hand German government simply cannot force Google to "stop operating in germany because it does not obey german laws". It is technically impossible, not just difficult (not that some clueless politician would not try and in the process cause severe technical breakdown in internet infrastructure).

            So I am pretty surprised why google, facebook and twitter all yield to whimsies of individual governments - they should simply say "this law is stupid, our servers are in USA, we don't care what you try to enforce on us".

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

              "I checked and I was myself pretty amused that while roaming in UK, my geolocation resolved to my telecom operator in my home country with the IP located in my home country."

              It does vary, but that would often not be the case. Did you connect with the same operator in the UK as you did at home (e.g. Orange or Vodafone UK compared with the same opertor at home)? If so, that might explain it, you'd probably have seen a different result if you connected with a rival network.

              "On the other hand German government simply cannot force Google to "stop operating in germany because it does not obey german laws"."

              I don't think anyone's saying they can. What they're saying is that if Germany make it too difficult for them to operate as they wish, they can just say "fine, we won't offer our service in Germany any more" and hope that the public backlash has a result that honest negotiation has not achieved. This may cause other problems, but as the news experiments have shown they can seemingly get away with not offering their service to a part of the EU that's causing them unique problems.

              "So I am pretty surprised why google, facebook and twitter all yield to whimsies of individual governments - they should simply say "this law is stupid, our servers are in USA, we don't care what you try to enforce on us"."

              Those companies do have a physical presence in Europe, and as such as subject to EU laws. It's more complicated than you think. Before making blanket assumptions, I'd check what the setup of these companies actually is, it's a lot more complicated than you think. Google, for example, certainly have a physical presence in Germany, although their EU datacentres are not located there. If they have a local physical presence, it's not as easy as redirecting traffic through the US datacentres.

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              • icon
                xmp125a (profile), 14 Jan 2018 @ 10:02am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                My phone company is the state-owned telecom with none of the special agreements with other telecoms (beyond roaming). But I only wanted to point out that there are - depending what are you trying to do - perhaps prohibitive technical difficulties in "blocking" someone to "do business in country X".

                Mind you, I live in EU but I watch US netflix, Hulu, and listen to Pandora. I pay for them fair and square, even they nominally block all EU based credit cards. Admittedly there is some technical knowledge involved (I am an engineer), but the structure of internet allows me to do it - and with US companies in adversarial position no less. Imagine if they were cooperative!

                I am sorry that I don't understand the structure of those companies, but that is not the point. Amazon AWS is doing great business in EU and they do not have "proper" EU presence for invoicing (that's why you cannot get real VAT invoice from them, believe me, many people tried). They take your credit card, issue an invoice that says "this is not VAT invoice" and it is my problem as a customer to solve it.
                (Yes I know AWS has datacenters in EU).

                SO excuse me if I still don't understand why for example facebook and twitter would not simply say fk you to EU governments, and move their EU based server to the US edge towards EU (in internet terms). What can EU governments do in that case? Block them? Yea right. My government blocks online betting. How? By demanding that ISP redirect it at DNS level. But everyone I know uses Google DNS anyway. And I can open bank account in any of the EU members, if someone would try to block payments.

                The only government marginally capable of actually blocking any site is UK, since they mandate ISPs to run some kind of rough deep packet inspection. Even chinese find the way to access US sites, despite the Great Firewall of China.

                So here is my question again: what prevents Google, Facebook and Twitter to close down their EU branches, move completely to US and offer services from there and showing middle finger to EU regulations and perhaps even suggesting VPN or working with VPN providers towards the goal of making their US sites impossible to block? Governments (at least democratic ones) cannot block any of them unless breaking the core structure of internet and cannot block any payments to them unless breaking the whole payment system.

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                • icon
                  Basketcase Software (profile), 14 Jan 2018 @ 11:35am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                  The distance between the servers and the consumer makes a real difference to service quality. That is why companies prefer to have a local presence where possible.

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                  • icon
                    xmp125a (profile), 14 Jan 2018 @ 1:22pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                    True. In theory. But on most days I am able to saturate my VPN connection to USA (I have fiber to the home 20/20). Never had problems watching any HD contents.

                    It is true, had many people use this trick, the things would change, but on the other hand, twitter, facebook, this are not data intensive applications (unlike video streaming).

                    And, I doubt that having edge location in EU could be a problem for a company that seeks to avoid being under EU jurisditction (at least, there would have to be a concerted effort by lawmakers and law enforcement to make it illegal).

                    Therefore, my theory is that they basically don't care if lawmakers are putting crazy amount of policing on them, because they are ideologically on the same side. They are left-biased and they would do this even if Germany would not demand this, only perhaps in slightly smaller degree.

                    So, if some company wants to be new Twitter or Facebook without (EU-required) censorship, they could easily do it, technology-wise. The problem is, neither Google nor Facebook or Twitter have any interest in being censorship-free.

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                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2018 @ 1:21am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                      "But on most days I am able to saturate my VPN connection to USA (I have fiber to the home 20/20). Never had problems watching any HD contents."

                      So, you have a dedicated VPN on what I assume is a dedicated line, and you have no problems, so you think this will translate to the average consumer who will largely have an ADSL line with all its contention ratio issues and a shared VPN connection? You may be missing some parts of real world application here.

                      "And, I doubt that having edge location in EU could be a problem for a company that seeks to avoid being under EU jurisditction"

                      Having ANY presence in the EU would result in some jurisdiction. That's not really hard to understand, is it?

                      "The problem is, neither Google nor Facebook or Twitter have any interest in being censorship-free."

                      Because that's literally impossible if you wish to legally operate in many countries.

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                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2018 @ 1:17am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                  "But I only wanted to point out that there are - depending what are you trying to do - perhaps prohibitive technical difficulties in "blocking" someone to "do business in country X""

                  Yes, and my point is that correctly prohibiting everyone is not necessary for these companies to get their points across. I know all about how to bypass regional control, the point is that most people won't, and there's no difference to the effect of such a block if they only block "most" rather than "all".

                  "that's why you cannot get real VAT invoice from them, believe me, many people tried"

                  Have you tried this? Works for me (I'm also in the EU):

                  https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/knowledge-center/aws-vat-invoice/

                  "So here is my question again: what prevents Google, Facebook and Twitter to close down their EU branches, move completely to US and offer services from there"

                  Nothing apart from burning bridges with one of the largest consumer blocs in the world and losing most of their customer bases there. Like it or not, the average consumer does not know how to bypass regional controls. While it may be difficult to effectively ban every method of bypassing controls, something the EU can definitely do is crack down on companies selling the bypass methods to consumers. Which means that when they go, a large proportion of their customer base will not. So, these companies stand to gain far more by staying as it is right now.

                  Oh, and I'd also add that companies like Netflix don't really care where you access them from, they get your money either way. They only block to appease the content providers, who are obsessed with regional blocking because they stupidly set up their core business model s dependent of regional licencing. You can get through those hoops relatively easily if you know what you're doing, because they only have to appear to be doing their best, not actually be 100% successful. But, again, the majority will not know how to do this alone so won't bother.

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                  • icon
                    xmp125a (profile), 15 Jan 2018 @ 1:49am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                    Have you tried this? Works for me (I'm also in the EU): https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/knowledge-center/aws-vat-invoice/

                    Of course I did. You get nicely framed invoice with a big remark "THIS IS NOT A VAT INVOICE" slapped on top. https://forums.aws.amazon.com/thread.jspa?messageID=664023

                    Nothing apart from burning bridges with one of the largest consumer blocs in the world and losing most of their customer bases there.

                    Assuming that Twitter and Facebook switch off their EU servers and route all trafic to US servers. I doubt it would make such huge difference in user experience. From user's side, zero knowledge needed. After all, this was the default setting, before companies started offering CDNs.

                    Yes, I know about reasons why Netflix and Hulu are playing with geolocation. That's why I said that in the case of US companies showing finger to EU jurisdiction would be much easier on the user, because the companies will be cooperative to the user, not adversarial.

                    While it may be difficult to effectively ban every method of bypassing controls, something the EU can definitely do is crack down on companies selling the bypass methods to consumers.

                    If we are talking vpn, again, nothing to be done if company is US based. But I did not even imagine this, this is way too technical for most people. Only way to ban foreign sites is deep packet inspection. There simply isn't any technology to block sites in the internet standard. And I don't imagine EU (or germany) going "full china" on this. The outcry would be enormous.

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                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2018 @ 2:07am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Downward spiral -- No, it's an UPWARD spiral: you're looking at it wrong.

                      "You get nicely framed invoice with a big remark "THIS IS NOT A VAT INVOICE" slapped on top."

                      Hmmm, I don't see that for some reason. Might be something to do with the way the tax info is set up in my company's account (I don't have control of the billing personally so I can't test anyway, unfortunately).

                      "Assuming that Twitter and Facebook switch off their EU servers and route all trafic to US servers. I doubt it would make such huge difference in user experience."

                      Did you forget the part where this entire conversation is about blocking people from certain countries?

                      " From user's side, zero knowledge needed."

                      Apart from bypassing regional blocks, sure. Again, that's what we're talking about here.

                      "If we are talking vpn, again, nothing to be done if company is US based"

                      Most people do not use VPNs, though. Again, you seem to be missing the entire point of your conversation.

                      "And I don't imagine EU (or germany) going "full china" on this. The outcry would be enormous."

                      Which is why it's far better for them to continue to do what they're doing than uproot and relocate in an obvious attempt to avoid EU rules (which will include tax, etc, as well as any speech issues).

                      But, again, the conversation was originally about Facebook et al blocking Germany, not the other way around.

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    • icon
      Xavier (profile), 9 Jan 2018 @ 12:39am

      Respect...

      Come on, this is exactly what US services and Government are trying to do worldwide : Microsoft sued in Justice to deliver to US juridiction mails content that are stored in Europe (Ireland) and protected by our privacy laws, the GAFAM that forbid any breast picture on their sites etc...

      It's unbelievable how the majority here spit in a despicable manner on European laws and don't respect our culture, our rules, our way of life !

      In Europe, we have absolutely no problem with nudity, but here freedom of expression is not total, it's strictly regulated : racism, hate, homophobia... are forbidden. We don't have your Constitution, please just accept it.

      When we (EU citizen) use GAFAM medias, we have to comply with your US rules - if we don't agree, we can use alternatives (Diaspora, Mastodon...), so please do the same : when US companies want to provide services (and make money, often without paying taxes) in EU countries, they have to comply with our legislation and culture, that's all !

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      • identicon
        Thad, 9 Jan 2018 @ 9:27am

        Re: Respect...

        Come on, this is exactly what US services and Government are trying to do worldwide

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

        We don't have your Constitution, please just accept it.

        Here's the thing, though: we do have our Constitution. And countries like France and Canada are fining American companies for content on American websites.

        You're right: that is just as bad as the US attempting to claim jurisdiction over servers in Ireland. That...doesn't make it okay, it does the opposite of that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:53am

    Germany: "employees of service providers tasked with removals can also be fined €5m personally for not reacting fast enough"

    employee: Ok - I quit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:08am

    so... the only way for Germany to combat Nazi-ism online... is to institute Nazi-like policies to the internet.... did I miss something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      so... the only way for Germany to combat Nazi-ism online... is to institute Nazi-like policies to the internet.... did I miss something?

      I think they call it "fighting fire with fire". Others might call it "throwing gasoline on the fire". Either way it's an arsonist's dream.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:18am

    "Titanic" didn't a expect a reaction? Baloney! Then WHY the contrived "parody"?

    "The magazine's writers are shocked at this turn of events. They likely didn't expect an American social media company to be making judgment calls on speech ahead of German censors."

    Shocked, eh? They're the type who fling feces AT monkeys to see if can start a fight.

    Techdirt needs to A) better explain the alleged problem, B) tell why anyone but Germans, not known for allowing anarchism, should be concerned, C) explain how/why believes "American" corporations are not subject to local law, and D) calm down: you are as usual shrieking "the sky is falling!" at first drop of rain.

    If THIS is the full horror already, all will be well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 3:54pm

      Re: "Titanic" didn't a expect a reaction? Baloney! Then WHY the contrived "parody"?

      I hate to risk talking about American history to a (presumably) American, but the reason the US eventually entered WWI and WWII was because it finally dawned on them that there were no countries in Europe that could defeat Germany, and that if Germany took control over all of Europe, it would eventually become a threat to the US itself (just as Russia/USSR) did.

      The danger with these 'censorship' laws is that Germany will force them on most/all of Europe via the EU and then you have a direct threat to the US itself when Germany controls all public speech and most private speech in Europe (and possibly even Russia). Remember how frightened Russians (and East Germans) were to even talk to each other in private? The EU is already half way down that road.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck, 8 Jan 2018 @ 12:35pm

    Go go gadget Trump

    As someone who hates Donald Trump with a vengeance, this is one of the few times when his otherwise braindead stupid "America first" ideology could actually be helpful.

    I mean, the fact is, there are over 170 countries on this planet, many with far worse definitions of "hate speech" than Germany. Sure, this is bad. But what happens when the Saudis decide that the "me too" movement sounds like hate speech to them? And what when the Vatican decides that both the Saudis and the Scientists sound like hate speech to them? Eventually, the only thing safe from this crap on the whole internet actually will be just the cat videos!

    If there was ever a time for the US DoJ to step up and say to a foreign power, "sorry, you can't enforce that law against our company/citizens" then damn, this is it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 8 Jan 2018 @ 1:06pm

    Forced underground

    Who here, understands a GOOD reason to not Censor speech?
    1. its a great way to find the idiots.
    2. Lies can bury truths(not a good one)
    3. A public forum to SAY/DISCUS a problem/condition/opinion..
    4. As long as both/or more SIDES can listen and criticize THERE MIGHT be a solution..
    -------------------------------------
    How to bury a subject..Dont say anything..LET is happen.
    Isnt this part and parcel of the Earlier law about "the right to be forgotten" so that others could not bring up the past of the politicians??

    With these 2 laws..
    Even if you are RIGHT to say something, you dont have the RIGHT to say it out loud..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Corrine, 8 Jan 2018 @ 6:28pm

    Twitter makes bizzare censorship decisions almost daily. I'm not (yet) convinced they're paying attention to the new German law at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 9:18pm

    Maybe these laws wouldn't exist if the people endlessly touting free speech absolutism could actually come up with effective methods and strategies for how to Counter Speech with More Speech™ online, or examples where it's actually worked.

    No, seriously, when somebody spouting hateful garbage can just hit the block button when they're challenged or retreat to a nigh-infinite number of echo-chamber websites or communities where their views are accepted, what do you do? How do you counter them then? Do you have an answer? Has any Counter Speech with More Speech™ activity online ever lead to somebody going "Gee golly jeepers! I used to be a horrible bigot, but your comments have truly opened my eyes!"?

    Can you explain to victims of targeted harassment and death threats why that behavior is a big no-no, while rhetoric that's specifically designed to get people to engage in death threats and targeted harassment is worthy of being given a place in the grand and hallowed "marketplace of ideas"? Because something tells me you can't.

    Pie-in-the-sky romanticized ideals of free speech and how it should work don't match the reality on the ground. Realism, not absolutism, is what's needed here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 9 Jan 2018 @ 2:38am

      Re:

      No, seriously, when somebody spouting hateful garbage can just hit the block button when they're challenged or retreat to a nigh-infinite number of echo-chamber websites or communities where their views are accepted, what do you do? How do you counter them then? Do you have an answer? Has any Counter Speech with More Speech™ activity online ever lead to somebody going "Gee golly jeepers! I used to be a horrible bigot, but your comments have truly opened my eyes!"?

      Okay, that's scary. The trouble with your attitude here is that you're invoking the notion of Approved Thought and Approved Speech. You want to correct each individual who holds views you don't like and force them to conform? Can I watch? We're already seeing that on the extreme progressive side on campuses in the USA. How's that going? Not so well, actually. Bad news: the alt-right positions are predicated on a sense of victimhood and a siege mentality so playing to that will only make things worse.

      Can you explain to victims of targeted harassment and death threats why that behavior is a big no-no, while rhetoric that's specifically designed to get people to engage in death threats and targeted harassment is worthy of being given a place in the grand and hallowed "marketplace of ideas"? Because something tells me you can't.

      Been there, seen it, done it, got the blood-stained t-shirt. Do a search on my name and you'll see what I mean. There are laws against harassment and making credible threats is illegal. These are not candidates for a place in the marketplace of ideas, they are the detritus of troll minds and these people are very hard to track down, much less shut up. Moderators on the sites they frequent can block them or allow the community to hide their comments but stopping people who want to behave that way is hard; it involves getting hold of the people and imposing controls on them — good luck with that. In my own situation the best I could do was address the comments where I could and ignore them the rest of the time. I still have a job and am still respected here on TD despite all the crap about me online.

      Pie-in-the-sky romanticized ideals of free speech and how it should work don't match the reality on the ground. Realism, not absolutism, is what's needed here.

      Realism demands that you don't over-react to idiots messing about. A calm and measured response is required. Not every threat is real, they're mostly trash talk. Where they spill over into real life the police can be involved. Ideally, people should be reasonable, friendly and kind. I'm sad to say that's not always true but I would advise against imposing or attempting to impose controls on everybody just because a few bad actors misbehave.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2018 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re:

        Thank you for your reply. Regarding my first question/set of questions, my primary issue is with how people claim that countering speech with more speech is a viable option, even online, when the very structure of the Internet and specific sites/services allows people who spout hateful rhetoric to simply mute/block those who try to tell them that said rhetoric is wrong and why, or let's them submerge themselves in a filter bubble full of confirmation biases and commented of like-minded individuals that will never challenge them. Trying to counter speech with more speech online through free and open debate on a forum/social media site and succeeding is an unattainable fantasy given that the Internet just lets people ignore others. The First Amendment fetishists who keep claiming that people just aren't free-and-open-debating hard enough are delusional.

        Regarding my second question, I'm confused as to why those who crusade for free speech in an absolutist fashion see rhetoric that is specifically designed to get people to engage in activities such as death threats and targeted harassment as different from the death threats and harassment themselves. For example: the hateful spew that comes from sites like Breitbart or Stormfront that's designed to get people angry is treated as precious speech that needs protecting while people acting on that same spew through online threats and harassment is rightfully treated as content that needs to be moderated and reported to the authorities. Why is that? Does the person who yells "fire!" in a crowded theater, looking to stir things get off the hook when somebody gets trampled because of them? Because I'm pretty sure they don't. But people doing the online equivalent is treated as sacrosanct speech. It's stupid and hypocritical for people to condemn online threats and harassment while defending the straight-up propaganda that's published online, defenses that are usually laden with the same handful of arguments about how if you don't defend *that* free speech, your free speech will come under fire later on. Yeah, I'm sure that the people in Europe who are seeing a resurgence of fascism are in the mood to defend the same rhetoric that led to untold destruction and death in their homeland, where defending that speech could very well lead to the curtailing of their own speech through fascists taking over again. But keep quoting Voltaire's "but I'll defend your right to say it", you crazy First Amendment Fetishists! I'm sure you'll roll that boulder up the hill some day...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2018 @ 12:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You appear to have been hurt by someone saying some hurtful things or really sympathize with victims of abusive speech. I can empathize with you but you are letting that cloud your view of the issue.

          If the government were to suddenly make hate speech illegal, the first thing that would need to be done is define what exactly hate speech is. Who gets to decide that? The answer is the government. Do you really want Trump defining what hate speech is? I'm sure by his definition he would classify all media outlets other than Fox News as engaging in hate speech.

          That's the problem with making it illegal. Upright moral people can usually identify what is hateful and not but as soon as you get someone of questionable morals in power, then they can re-define it however they want. For proof look to any dictator in history. They all outlawed speech they didn't agree with under the guise of 'hate speech' or 'national security'.

          And this is why we are 'absolutists' and 'fetishists', because you can't protect true freedom of speech without protecting some bad speech. It doesn't work. Even threats of violence can be a tricky issue. Take for example the potential statement "I'm going to kill you!". You could consider that to be unquestionably abusive and a threat and make it illegal (which it is in some cases already).

          BUT, consider a gamer playing Call of Duty multiplayer online and shouting it to the opposing team. Suddenly it's no longer an actual threat of physical violence, it's simply the player stating that he is going to 'kill' the opposing teams' avatars, thereby netting him enough points to hopefully win the game. He holds no actual malice or intends the other players physical harm, he is just playing the game. This is quite clearly not morally wrong (unless you disagree with violence in video games, but that's another topic).

          Your hypothetical of yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater, is also flawed. You can absolutely yell fire in a theater, and there are times when people would thank you for it (such as an actual fire). If you don't believe me, please see this link for an excellent write up on the matter: https://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-hackneyed-apologia-for-censorship-are-enou gh/

          If any speech is designed to deliberately incite violence, that is not protected under the First Amendment and should not be. But that's a high bar, merely angry speech that gets people mad or angry doesn't qualify. It has to be actively advocating for violence.

          As for your your first set of questions about countering speech with more speech, why do you think it doesn't work? History is rife with examples where once someone spoke up about something, change began to occur. Take slavery for example, or more recently, sexual abuse against women. The WORST thing you can do is block someone's speech, even if you don't like it because then it makes them feel like a martyr or that they are really on to something to get people to start blocking it.

          Blocking speech is the domain of dictators and tyrants. That is one of the shining differences between an enslaved country and a free country. Enslaved countries rarely have freedom of speech, free countries always do. It's the ability to speak freely that helps keep us free, even if some of the speech is bad.

          Hateful abusive speech is not the root of the problem. There is a person, beliefs, and ideas behind the speech that generates that speech. If someone is spouting racist speech, you know he is a racist and you can take steps to try and educate him and change his mind. If you prevent him from speaking those things, you'll never know he is a racist and will have no opportunity to address the person, beliefs, and ideas that bring forth the hate speech.

          Your points about people being able to mute/block others and put themselves in a bubble is valid. But it goes both ways too, others who don't want to hear that speech can block them as well. And the internet isn't the only place where people can just ignore others. People have been doing that all throughout history without the internet.

          I can empathize and understand your point of view, but you don't fully understand the issue or the consequences of what you are suggesting.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2018 @ 1:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          when the very structure of the Internet and specific sites/services allows people who spout hateful rhetoric to simply mute/block those who try to tell them that said rhetoric is wrong and why

          Speaking against such people will not change their views, but will strip way, and/or prevent them gaining a large following.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 10 Jan 2018 @ 2:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What both of the above commenters said: I couldn't have put it better myself.

            Let's stop trying to Make People Behave and work at reaching the people they appeal to instead. Bad behaviour and attitudes will continue but they won't be popular.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2018 @ 3:55am

      Re:

      You have the soul of a censor, in that you are prepared to dictate what other can do and say; but what will you do when others dictating what you can do or say differ in their beliefs from what you believe to be correct?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 9 Jan 2018 @ 5:33am

        Re: Re:

        Aye, there's the rub: the trouble with setting up an apparatus of censorship to control "bad" speech is that the tables can easily be turned and the protected group re-cast as the bad guys. It all boils down to popular opinion.

        Saying it's okay to punch a Nazi one day can be used later on as an example of hate speech and incitement to commit a crime.

        Rule of thumb: promote and enforce the rule of law. Anything that contradicts that is automatically suspect.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2018 @ 11:33pm

    Fake news, hate speech, both in the name of censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:17am

    Vile, hurtful things said loudly in a public square...

    Is something we're getting a lot of lately given we have presidents and other officials who are free to express their bigotry in public.

    And yeah, when they do, it creates plenty of uproar, but so far no one is doing much towards electoral reform. No one is doing anything to stop the next wave of hateful candidates from demagoging their way into office, where they will get to preach their own style of hate with impunity.

    This new German law is a petty law meant to punish little people for being powerless. Not for being hateful, but just for saying something that offended a bureaucrat.

    And yet hate is paraded around by elites to secure approval and votes from their base.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:26am

    There is no solution to the problem of monkeys throwing their own poop...

    ...at least if you want to interact with monkeys. Sometimes they're going to throw poop.

    Some people who like monkeys are willing to tolerate that sometimes there will be poop-throwing.

    Others who can't stand monkey poop keep clear of monkeys, and only observe them behind glass or from a safe distance.

    And we can train monkeys (more or less) to behave sometimes so that some people can interact with monkeys on good behavior with low risk of poop.

    But I don't think we want to resort to massacring all the monkeys so that some people can feel safe from monkey poop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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