Twitter has decided to challenge the regulation that will apply in Germany from February 1st. It obliges social networks to immediately block or remove illegal content and to report criminal offenses to the police.
The lawsuit, filed in an administrative court in Cologne, challenges a provision in Germany’s expanded anti-hate speech rules that Twitter says allows users’ data to be released to law enforcement agencies before a crime is proven. Facebook and Google filed similar lawsuits in the summer of 2021.
“We fear that the law envisages a serious interference with the fundamental rights of citizens, said a spokesman for Twitter. — In particular, we are concerned that the requirement to actively share user data with law enforcement forces private companies to assume the role of prosecutors and provide law enforcement with personal customer data even in the absence of illegal activity.”
In early 2018, Germany passed an anti-hate speech law making social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accountable for monitoring and removing toxic content. The law, which also requires social media to publish regular reports on its implementation, has been criticized as ineffective. In May of last year, the federal government passed amendments to the law that tighten the law and expand its scope.
According to the German authorities, the new regulation aims to help the country’s law enforcement agencies to combat right-wing extremism and hate speech online more effectively.