So, is NetzDG good?

Following the endless saga of governments trying to restrict free speech, it is worth considering the German NetzDG law.

NetzDG, Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (I am not kidding), subtitled “Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Rechtsdurchsetzung in sozialen Netzwerken”, or the “Network Enforcement Act” for those that don’t speak German, aims at combating disinformation and hate speech on social networks.

A laudable goal, except of course for the fact that hate speech is most likely to be defined as much more than the true form (incitement of violence), such as saying actually factual things (see the Nelson example in the post linked above) that just happens to be against the current political climate.

But it’s actually a lot easier to get an idea of how good NetzDG is, than to examine the definitions of hate speech and whether or not this works to limit that and disinformation/”fake news”: You could just look at what regimes like this law. Scotland and to some degree the rest of United Kingdom as it stands today would like this kind of law, but the real fans are countries like … Turkey, Russia and Venezuela.

Countries famed for their relation to free speech.

The German Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) continues to inspire authoritarian and illiberal internet censorship around the world. In under a year, the number of countries copy-pasting the NetzDG matrix to provide cover and legitimacy for digital censorship and repression has almost doubled to a total of 25, a new analysis from the civil liberties think tank Justitia´s Future of Free Speech project shows.
— Jacob Mchangama, “The Digital Berlin Wall Act 2: How the German Prototype for Online Censorship went Global – 2020 edition

And if countries like Honduras, Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Russia and Pakistan think your law limiting certain online discussions is good, that law is quite likely to be bad.












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