NetzDG: Ministry of Justice plans more rights for users

Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wants to make the social media stricter when it comes to combating illegal content. A 36-page speaker draft for the amendment of the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), which is available from, shows that providers such as Facebook, Youtube or Twitter will in future "easy to use" Notification procedures for user complaints must be available. In addition, they have to establish a so-called counter-presentation procedure so that it is easier to object to deletions or rejected complaints. Game streaming platforms like Twitch will also fall under the law in the future.

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The NetzDG, which was decided by the Union and the SPD, has been obliged to delete larger social media since January 1, 2018 "obviously illegal content" such as sedition, threats, insults or slander within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

Fines already imposed on Facebook

According to the government, the reporting channels are for submitting complaints "sometimes too complicated or hidden", In addition, the information content and the comparability of the semi-annual transparency reports are to be improved. Some of these reports have shown considerable differences in the number of complaints. For example, while YouTube or Twitter received around 250,000 complaints in half a year, Facebook only had 1,000 in the same period.

For this reason, the responsible supervisory authority, the Federal Office of Justice, has meanwhile fined Facebook millions. According to the BfJ, the small number of reports is due to the fact that Facebook has two different reporting channels: a so-called flagging reporting channel and the NetzDG form. Users who wanted to file a NetzDG complaint would "Steered onto the flagging reporting path because the juxtaposition of the flagging reporting path and the NetzDG form on Facebook is not sufficiently transparent and the NetzDG form is too hidden",

More powers for BfJ

Now the federal government wants to expand the powers of the BfJ. Accordingly, the office may in future violate the NetzDG "Take necessary measures against the provider and oblige the provider to remedy the infringement. In addition, the BfJ can" organized under private law "Arbitration boards for out-of-court settlement of disputes" recognize. These arbitration boards should act after a counter-presentation procedure has been completed. However, participation in the arbitration is voluntary, so that the decision of the provider can be brought immediately.

The amendment law also contains new requirements for video sharing platforms such as Twitch. With this, the government is also implementing the EU directive for audiovisual media services. Last but not least, the disclosure of user data by private law should be simplified. An amendment to the Telemedia Act (TMG) on inventory data information is intended to ensure that no additional lawsuit against the service provider is required if a court has already ruled on the admissibility of the publication.

The various federal ministries must first agree on the draft bill. According to the Süddeutscher Zeitung the cabinet should vote on April 1. The draft stipulates that the changes should take effect on September 20, 2020 at the earliest.

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