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Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Facebook in July said it had deleted hundreds of offensive posts since implementation of the law

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Social media
An illustration picture shows a man starting his Twitter app on a mobile device in Hanau near Frankfurt. VOA

German states have drafted a list of demands aimed at tightening a law that requires social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove hate speech from their sites, the Handelblatt newspaper reported Monday.

Justice ministers from the states will submit their proposed revisions to the German law called NetzDG at a meeting with Justice Minister Katarina Barley on Thursday, the newspaper said, saying it had obtained a draft of the document.

The law, which came into full force on Jan. 1, is a highly ambitious effort to control what appears on social media and it has drawn a range of criticism.

Twitter, tweets, social media
Twitter allows publishers to monetise video views globally. (VOA)

While the German states are focused on concerns about how complaints are processed, other officials have called for changes following criticism that too much content was being blocked.

The states’ justice ministers are calling for changes that would make it easier for people who want to complain about banned content such as pro-Nazi ideology to find the required forms on social media platforms.

They also want to fine social media companies up to 500,000 euros ($560,950) for providing “meaningless replies” to queries from law enforcement authorities, the newspaper said.

Till Steffen, the top justice official in Hamburg and a member of the Greens party, told the newspaper that the law had in some cases proven to be “a paper tiger.”

Social media
If we want to effectively limit hate and incitement on the internet, we have to give the law more bite. Pixabay

“If we want to effectively limit hate and incitement on the internet, we have to give the law more bite and close the loopholes,” he told the paper. “For instance, it cannot be the case that some platforms hide their complaint forms so that no one can find them.”

Also Read: Facebook Allows French Regulators to Oversee Hate Speech Control

Facebook in July said it had deleted hundreds of offensive posts since implementation of the law, which foresees fines of up to 50 million euros ($56.10 million) for failure to comply. (VOA)

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Digital Media Giants Threaten to Suspend Services in Pakistan

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Pakistan digital media
A coalition comprising digital media giants Facebook, Google and Twitter have threatened to suspend services in Pakistan. Pixabay

A coalition comprising digital media giants Facebook, Google and Twitter (among others) have spoken out against the new regulations approved by the Pakistani government for social media, threatening to suspend services in the country if the rules were not revised, it was reported.

In a letter to Prime Minster Imran Khan earlier this month, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) called on his government to revise the new sets of rules and regulations for social media, The News International reported on Friday.

“The rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses,” reads the letter, referring to the Citizens Protection Rules (Against Online Harm).

The new set of regulations makes it compulsory for social media companies to open offices in Islamabad, build data servers to store information and take down content upon identification by authorities.

Pakistan digital media
According to the law, authorities will be able to take action against any citizen of Pakistan found guilty of targeting state institutions at home and abroad on social media. Pixabay

Failure to comply with the authorities in Pakistan will result in heavy fines and possible termination of services. It said that the regulations were causing “international companies to re-evaluate their view of the regulatory environment in Pakistan, and their willingness to operate in the country”.

Referring to the rules as “vague and arbitrary in nature”, the AIC said that it was forcing them to go against established norms of user privacy and freedom of expression.

“We are not against regulation of social media, and we acknowledge that Pakistan already has an extensive legislative framework governing online content. However, these Rules fail to address crucial issues such as internationally recognized rights to individual expression and privacy,” The News International quoted the letter as saying.

According to the law, authorities will be able to take action against Pakistanis found guilty of targeting state institutions at home and abroad on social media. The law will also help the law enforcement authorities obtain access to data of accounts found involved in suspicious activities.

Also Read- Cyber Attackers May Use Ultrasonic Waves To Activate Siri, Google on Your Smartphone

It would be the said authority’s prerogative to identify objectionable content to the social media platforms to be taken down. In case of failure to comply within 15 days, it would have the power to suspend their services or impose a fine worth up to 500 million Pakistani rupees ($3 million). (IANS)