Internet Intermediary Liability Reloaded - The New German Act on Responsibility of Social Networks and its (In-) Compatibility with European Law

Author:Gerald Spindler
Pages:166-179
SUMMARY

Fake News and hate speech are at the centre of discussions at least since Donald Trump won the U.S. elections in 2016. Politicians around the world fear the influence of social networks and distribution of fake news that will foster populism as well as blur the lines to traditional media. Thus, after having tried self-regulatory mechanisms which according to the belief of the German Government... (see full summary)

 
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2017
Gerald Spindler
166
2
Internet Intermediary Liability Reloaded
The New German Act on Responsibility of Social Networks and
its (In-) Compatibility with European Law
by Gerald Spindler*
© 2017 Gerald Spindler
Everybody may disseminate this ar ticle by electronic m eans and make it available for downloa d under the terms and
conditions of the Digital P eer Publishing Licence (DPPL). A copy of the license text may be obtain ed at http://nbn-resolving.
de/urn:nbn:de:0009-dppl-v3-en8.
Recommended citation: Ger ald Spindler, Internet Intermediary Liabilit y Reloaded – The New German Act on Responsibilit y of
Social Network s and its (In-) Compatibility with European Law, 8 (2017) JIPIT EC 166 para 1.
Keywords: NetzDG; responsibility of social networks; Fake News; hate speech; E-Commerce-Directive
ment brought in a new bill called „Netzwerkdurch-
setzungsgesetz“ which should impose on social net-
works fines up to 50 Mio Euro if they do not comply
with obligations to remove illicit content. The article
deals with the structure of the act and its compatibil-
ity with European law, in particular the E-Commerce-
Directive, based upon a legal expertise commissioned
by the German Association of Telecommunication
and Internet Industry.
Abstract: Fake News and hate speech are at
the centre of discussions at least since Donald Trump
won the U.S. elections in 2016. Politicians around the
world fear the influence of social networks and dis-
tribution of fake news that will foster populism as
well as blur the lines to traditional media. Thus, af-
ter having tried self-regulatory mechanisms which
according to the belief of the German Government
turned out to be unsatisfactory the German Govern-
A. Introduction
1
The German parliament has passed a new „Act
improving law enforcement on social networks
[Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz – NetzDG]” which
has been notied to the EU-Commission on 27th of
March 2017.1 The act aims mainly – as the German
notication points out – at
„the introduction of statutory compliance rules for social
networks in order to encourage them to process complaints
about hate speech and other criminal content more quickly
and comprehensively.”
2
The German government states that social networks
(and alike providers) should live up to their
responsibility to immediately remove infringing
* Prof. Dr., University of Goettingen/Germany.
1 Notication Number 2017/0127/D - SERV60. The noticiation
wrongly named the Act „Netzdurchführungsgesetz
NetzDG“.
content – which according to the statement of the
German government they still do not in a satisfying
manner.2
3
To achieve a more satisfying level of removing illicit
content and fake news the act provides in principal
roughly two obligations:
to report periodically to authorities as well as to
the public their actions concerning complaints
about illicit content and their organization to
handle these complaints
to remove in 24 hours content which is
blatantly3 illicit and within 7 days all other
illicit content. Providers may, however, refer
the decision regarding unlawfulness to a
recognised selfregulation institution within 7
2 Notication „Brief statements of grounds”.
3 It is unclear if the German Act will refer to „blatantly” (so
the wording in the notication of the German Government)
or to „manifestly” (as used in the translation of the German
act by the German Government).

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