How not to regulate social networks
by Nikolas Guggenberger
Last year, the Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG for short) came into force in Germany. Its principal objective is to combat hate speech on the Internet. Social networks, says the analysis on which the Act is based, had not been reacting to information from certain users, or at least not in a timely fashion, and removing unlawful content. The victims of online criminal activities, the analysis goes on to say, had not been adequately protected in the past. The Act does, therefore, deal with an important and legitimate concern. Unfortunately, that is all that can be said in favour of the regulations contained in the Act – because in fact it contravenes both European law and the German constitution. It is not fit for purpose, sets dangerous disincentives – to the detriment of freedom of opinion – and is poorly thought out from a legal point of view.