Right-wing extremism and hatred online: BKA expects 150,000 criminal proceedings

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From February 1, 2022, providers such as WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, Tinder & Co. will have to disclose allegedly criminal content as well as IP addresses or passwords of suspects to security authorities. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) now expects 250,000 reports annually. This could result in 150,000 new criminal proceedings, said a BKA spokesman, according to RND.

The obligation to notify results from the law “to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime”, which the German Bundestag passed in June 2020. Social networks such as Facebook, TikTok and Twitter no longer only have to delete content relevant to criminal law, such as hate reports, terrorism propaganda or threats and depictions of child sexual abuse, but also report it to the BKA without being asked, together with sensitive data of the suspects.

The Google subsidiary Youtube sued this change in the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) ​​at the Cologne Administrative Court in July and filed an urgent application, shortly afterwards Facebook followed suit before the same court. That’s why the BKA is leaving sea ​​RND currently assume that these two companies would not report any suspected criminal offenses for the time being. Regardless of this, however, “other social networks with at least two million registered users would be subject to the statutory reporting obligation under the NetzDG as of February 1, 2022,” said the BKA spokesman.

The urgent requests had “no suspensive effect,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Justice to the RND. However, the ministry had told the corporations that it would “suspend the reporting obligation until the end of the urgent procedure”. Should the urgent decision go in favor of the corporations, the work of the reporting office would probably be completely suspended until the court decides on the main issue. The decision in the urgent procedure is supposed to be made in February at the latest.

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The BKA has set up a central reporting office for criminal content on the Internet (ZMI) with around 200 officers to process the reports. The processes are currently being developed within the BKA, but also with cooperation partners from the police and the judiciary, and tested jointly in order to be as prepared as possible for the time from the deadline, writes the RND. BKA President Holger Münch had urged that the reporting obligation be introduced as quickly as possible, since increasing hate crimes against people in public life could become democratic-endangering proportions if it intimidated politicians and journalists.

A survey by the Körber Foundation among 1,641 mayors in Germany showed last year that 57 percent of them had already been insulted, threatened or assaulted. 68 percent of those surveyed changed their behavior out of fear of being insulted or attacked. 37 percent largely refrain from using social media.

Together with the BKA, the German Association of Cities and the German District Association have developed a nationwide municipal monitoring system on hatred, agitation and violence against officials and elected officials. Surveys are to be carried out every six months. The reason is the increasing extent of verbal and physical attacks on full-time and honorary politicians. A platform is to be created for those affected to provide them with better preventative and criminal prosecution support, to sensitize the specialist public and security authorities and to create the necessary basis to be able to take action against them. Interested and affected persons can do this participate in a survey.

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