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Germany Cracks Down On Illegal Speech On Social Media. (smh.com.au) 535

ArmoredDragon writes: German police have raided 36 homes of people accused of using illegal speech on Facebook and Twitter. Much of it was aimed at political speech. According to the article, "Most of the raids concerned politically motivated right-wing incitement, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, whose officers conducted home searches and interrogations. But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone's sexual orientation."

This comes just as a new law is being debated that can fine social media platforms $53 million for not removing 70% of illegal speech (including political, defamatory, and hateful speech) within 24 hours of it being posted, which Facebook argues will make it obligatory for them to delete posts and ban users for speech that isn't clearly illegal.

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Germany Cracks Down On Illegal Speech On Social Media.

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  • Free Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:04PM (#54684341)

    You're doing it wrong!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 )

      Scratch a Progressive and you'll always find a Nazi underneath.

      • Do you even know what "progressive" means? I explain it to you: it means moving forward. Apparently, you prefer to stay stuck in the past.
      • Re: Free Speech (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rujiel ( 1632063 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @02:09AM (#54689743)
        Yeah, damn those progressives and their hatred of immigrants, unwillingness to deal with members of minority religions, hatred of homosexuals amd cripples, authoritarian leanings and appeals to religious authority... oh wait, that's a conservative I just described. Now are you going to complain to me about safe spaces and the war on christmas?
    • Re:Free Speech (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@ w o r l d 3 . net> on Sunday June 25, 2017 @04:45AM (#54685507) Homepage Journal

      This comes down to different definitions of freedom in the EU and the US. In the US it's all about freedom from interference by the government, in the EU there is also the freedom to live without fear and oppression in your life.

      In this case the stuff people have been posting is either direct harassment/threats to individuals, which is actually illegal in the US as well, or more controversially speech promoting violence and hatred of groups based on their ethnicity or religion.

      It's interesting that the US was founded by people escaping from religious oppression in Europe. The US constitution guarantees no discrimination or oppression of religion by the government, but not by other citizens. I should stress that it's not about religious views, those should be open to criticism, it's about discrimination along the lines of a sign that says "no Jews". In Germany that got particularly bad a while back.

      In the EU the right to "enjoy" life is a basic human right. By "enjoy" it doesn't mean you have to be happy, it just means you have to have the opportunity to use your freedoms without undue burdens like having to fear for your life or request police protection just to go outside. Thus not just threats against individuals are illegal, like in the US, but also threats against identifiable groups or incitements to violence against them.

      Personally I find the incitement part problematic... I understand why it is there, but it's something that must be interpreted very narrowly to avoid restricting freedom of speech.

  • Illegal speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bongey ( 974911 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:11PM (#54684355)
    There should be no such thing as illegal speech.
    • The players change, but the script remains the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Yes, there should.
      The classic yelling fire in a crowded theater is a good example. Asking someone to commit murder is another example.
      In this case, each nation has a different history and culture. The US has a very different history when it comes to Nazi's and antisemitism than many European nations. We allow Neo-Nazis to say the trash that they say because we believe that evil thrives in the dark and hates the light. Germany is a free democratic nation so if the citizens of Germany want to have those limit

      • by lucasnate1 ( 4682951 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:29PM (#54684429)

        I am not sure whether racist speech should be limited or not. I am sure that I prefer limiting racist speech over limiting sexual content (assuming consent). I don't get it what's up with you americans and sexuality.

      • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:36PM (#54684459)

        The classic yelling fire in a crowded theater is a good example.

        This is not illegal. Google it.

        Asking someone to commit murder is another example.

        The standard is - if there is a reasonable expectation of your speech directly causing harm of someone specifically, then that can be considered incitement to commit violence or murder.

        That's it. That's all that should be covered. The other exception is if you are motivated by hatred for some reason or another to commit a crime, which would be a hate crime - then your words can be used against you. But they can't be used to convict you of a crime alone, they have to be coupled with another crime.

        • How does conspiracy factor into that? In essence, a conspiracy is communicating for the intent to commit a crime. As with treason, conspiracy both involves the use of an accused's words as evidence of intent and as the crime itself.

          Even in the United States speech has never been an absolute liberty (also see obscenity laws).

          • Conspiracy?

            This comes just as a new law is being debated that can fine social media platforms $53 million for not removing 70% of illegal speech...

            Exactly $53 million [billboard.com] you say... and Zuck had $11.5 million in his checking account and just sold some stock. [qz.com]

            Hmmm...

      • by bongey ( 974911 )
        Realized that just didn't want a long post.
      • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:44PM (#54684497)

        This is not "yelling fire in a crowded theater", in any way, shape, or form. That theory is used incessantly to justify suppression of speech. In this case, it is being used to *intentionally suppress political speech that is not in accordance with the current government position*, which is the sort of speech that requires the most protection.

              Germany's history of anti-semitism is not the issue. If you examined the history of anti-semitism of Germany, it's hardly any different in theory from anyplace els - anti-semitism has been a recurring theme throughout history.

                What *is* different is their history of oppression that led to the most appalling - and efficient - attempt at genocide in human history. The root of this was permitting repression in favor of the government, leading to a dictatorship. This allowed thugs with delusions of racial superiority to take over.

            The Germans are *dead wrong* to criminalize speech, because as soon as you do, you permit someone else to decide what "hate" means - just like 1933.

               

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          The Germans are *dead wrong* to criminalize speech, because as soon as you do, you permit someone else to decide what "hate" means - just like 1933.

          Precisely so.

          Good thing we in the US don't have any major institutions with Orwellian speech codes, adjudicated by absurd kangaroo pseudo-courts ...

        • Genocide is nothing new. It's roots are like most things economic. The Germans needed money to lift their economy despite of the sanctions and fuel a war machine suitable for empire building. The Jews happen to have enough money for that and being an insular people were easy enough to put to the sword for the purpose of taking their wealth.

          Take any awful thing that's been done in history and it's always about money when all's said and done. If you want to stop Genocide, oppression and everything else tha
          • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

            No that's wrong, you do show the cause and effect in a wrong way.

            robbing possession
            As it is true that the Nazis robbed or coerced jewish people - those that were able to leave the country or those getting slaughtered - off their possession, the basic cause for the prosecution was a racistic - racial ideology - view on humans, their physiognomic properties and their suggested different worth for society.

            pseudo-scientific racial "theory"
            This pseudo-scientific racial theory/ideology, in contrast to the "norma

            • You are missing it, thereby fucking up cause and effect.

              The workers party. Fighting the good fight against the rich. The Jews became the poster child for their 1%, the people that had to be stopped, but the hatred of the Jews wasnt the cause, it was the effect. Had to make a villain.

              All the ethnic and racial hatred was the effect, not the cause. The modern day left still decries the rich, manufactures easily classified villains from it.

              The left are the problem not because of their ideals, but because
      • No one is saying there shouldn't be consequences for a person's actions, just that the government should leave as much of that to the free exercise of individuals as possible. Causing injury through ones actions (speech or otherwise) can be handled in civil courts reasonably well in most cases without the government needing to make specific or narrowly defined speech illegal. The best weapon against speech with which you disagree is always free speech of your own. When deciding whether or not government sho
      • The classic yelling fire in a crowded theater is a good example.

        You do realize this quote was the Supreme Court's justification of why it's okay for the government to jail anti-war protesters [wikipedia.org]?

        • Also that the original quote was limited to falsely crying that there was a fire, meaning it was always about claims of objective fact rather than opinion or emotion. On top of that, the justice who wrote it later recanted and said it was a wrong argument in the first place.

        • That doesn't make it wrong, it just means it was misused as an example.

          In practice we ban a variety of forms of speech completely legitimately, usually with less lethal consequences than shouting "FIre" in a crowded theater. We ban fraud and defamation, to give but two examples.

          • We ban fraud, but only make defamation a tort. (There are a few criminal defamation laws in various US states, but they are essentially dead letters. Given current precedent, they would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional at the first challenge.)

      • by Mr. Shotgun ( 832121 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @11:33PM (#54684869)

        The classic yelling fire in a crowded theater is a good example.

        The line was actually "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." which would be more akin to immediately inciting a riot than mere words on facebook. But even at that the quote was part of a decision in Schenck vs. United States [cornell.edu] which justified imprisonment of Socialist protesters of the draft during World War I [popehat.com].

        If we were to apply the logic and decisions of that court case to the modern times every member of Code pink would be serving ten years in prison and Bernie Sanders would have long been sent to the gallows. While that quote is the goto response for people supporting censorship people should look into the circumstances, least they find themselves supporting a very terrible decision.

      • by Mr307 ( 49185 )

        The 'classic' yelling fire in a crowded theater example was never law, and the case in which it was said was overturned in 1969.

        The original author Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes just 1 year later ruled completely the opposite in a similar case. In that 2nd case Holmes has a line which ought to be more quoted by everyone when talking about free speech:

        "The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas - that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the co

    • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:40PM (#54684473)

      There should be no such thing as illegal speech.

      Absolute free speech is a great idea... until you add human emotion to the equation. There must be basic limitations on things such as death threats. I'm not siding with Germany here, I'm just siding with common sense.

    • I think it's absolutely hilarious that Europeans have looked down their noses at Americans for so long yet immediately after they begin diluting their monocultures with immigration they completely melt down. We've lacked a unified culture since forever and have held up a lot better than they are. Ha!
    • There should be no such thing as illegal speech.

      I disagree. Democracy and liberty need to defend themselves against disinformation, lies, hate speech and propaganda that attempts to destabilize and ultimately abolish it.

      Free speech doesn't mean we need to listen and tolerate it if someone shouts "death to all Jews" or "kill all the infidels".

    • Why?

      And why it is rated "insightful"? As a German I find such a statement rather dumb.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:21PM (#54684403)

    governments are scared of the internet... they are trying to slowly kill it

  • by DreadCthulhu ( 772304 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @09:27PM (#54684425)
    Thankfully, here in the US the Supreme Court unanimously disagrees with this "hate speech" BS. Letting governments censor any sort of political speech is just a bad idea. https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]
  • I'm not saying "work within the system" the system is corrupt and does not represent it's people, any attempt to work with the system just creates more prisoners. The people have a duty to replace their government with a government that represents them.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Germany is now stuck with very powerful laws that should have only been used to protect democracy from communists or fascists taking over.
      Laws that should have protected from communist and fascist parties, their meetings, fund raising and publishing.
      Such laws are now been used to stop any and all comments on the policies of todays German political policy.
      Report on local issues, how local services are been used, what governments are doing, the results of illegal immigration and risk a police interview.
    • The people have a duty to replace their government with a government that represents them.

      What makes you think the government doesn't represent them?

  • Of Governments doing whatever the hell they want to do the people and telling the people to stfu. You say Trump is the dictator, maybe you should look in the mirror first.
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @10:04PM (#54684581) Journal

      Germany's limitations on far right speech have been around for seven decades, and were born out of the Allied Occupation and Allied Denazification policies. We can argue whether those laws are justifiable now, but the intent, as with banning the Imperial form of Shinto by the US during the occupation of Japan, was to assure that the militaristic regimes that had killed hundreds of millions would not rise again.

  • Coming soon to a country near you with all the snowflakes who will want legally mandated safe spaces.

  • 1) Count how many posts are made each day.
    2) "Arrange" for 2.5 as many illegal posts to be made.
    3) Remove all the posts from step 2.
    4) P- You know.

  • Wrong icon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Saturday June 24, 2017 @10:24PM (#54684639)

    Shouldn't this be under the censorship icon?

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday June 24, 2017 @10:44PM (#54684741)

    "Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet."

    So we'll kick in your door if you make an internet post we don't like.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Saturday June 24, 2017 @10:59PM (#54684781)

    If Facebook and other social media companies dont like these new laws they should shut down all their German operations and have no employees, no servers, no infrastructure and no business presence in Germany and then say "we no longer have a presence in Germany therefore German law doesn't apply to us"

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Sunday June 25, 2017 @02:07AM (#54685225)

    "Illegal speech" is only one tiny step away from "illegal thought". You can stuff these laws in your keester.

  • Merkel only seeks to silence opposition under the banner of political correctness.

    • by ctid ( 449118 )

      No she doesn't. And there are VERY good reasons for Germany to fear the reemergence of insane right-wing demagogues.

  • by Bender Unit 22 ( 216955 ) on Sunday June 25, 2017 @04:25AM (#54685463) Journal

    It's not like they have a history of overreacting. :D

  • The foundational cornerstone of American democracy are the first and second amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The guarantee against government interference of free speech and the right of citizens to arm themselves. Everything else, all the other rights and amendments laid out in that document flow from and depend on the first two.

    If you look at Europe today, that is exactly what European "democracies" lack, real U.S. strength 1st and 2nd amendments. What they lack are real free speech rights and the a

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