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Can Germany's ‘Lex Facebook’ Be Saved? A Business & Human Rights Analysis

Author: Global Voices, Published on: 13 March 2018

In an attempt to stifle hate speech and racial discrimination online, German lawmakers built one of the most controversial EU laws regulating online platforms in 2017.

Commonly known as “NetzDG”, Germany’s Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (Network Enforcement Law) requires large social media companies to proactively enforce German speech laws on their platforms. This has been met with a storm of criticism both at home and abroad...

While this increases pressure on the companies to respond, it also forces them to decide what is — and is not — hate speech. The short time frame in which the law expects companies to remove hate speech could easily lead them to err on the side of automated censorship, in an effort to avoid steep fines...

One brighter element of the NetzDG is a requirement that companies publish periodic, detailed transparency reports about the results of the law’s implementation. However, the categories of data for this transparency report proposed by the NetzDG law do not offer a meaningful understanding of how Facebook makes decisions...

Finally, the law misses the opportunity to define a common standard for the disclosure of data, that would allow for it to be meaningfully searched and cross-referenced between private companies...

Business as usual is not an effective way to regulate large private intermediaries. Focusing on basic human rights norms and standards is.

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