UN Human Rights Committee Criticizes Germany’s NetzDG for Letting Social Media Platforms Police Online Speech

A UN human rights committee examining the status of civil and political rights in Germany took aim at the country’s Network Enforcement Act, or NetzDG, criticizing the hate speech law in a recent report for enlisting social media companies to carry out government censorship, with no judicial oversight of content removal.

The United National Human Rights Committee, which oversees the implementation of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), expressed concerns, as we and others have, that the regulation forces tech companies to behave as the internet police with power to decide what is free speech and what is hate speech. NetzDG requires large platforms to remove content that appears manifestly illegal within 24 hours of having been alerted of it, which will likely lead to take downs of lawful speech as platforms err on the side of censorship to avoid penalties. The absence of court oversight of content removal was deemed especially alarming, as it limits access to redress in cases where the nature of content is disputed.

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