Angela Merkel signals potential changes to online hate speech law
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she is willing to consider changes to a controversial new online hate speech law.
“Of course we’re now looking at what consequences this law has and what happens, and we’ll definitely evaluate it too,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.
The new rules — known locally as NetzDG — came into force January 1 and demand that social media giants promptly remove potentially illegal material, some of it within 24 hours of being notified, or face fines of up to €50 million.
Critics have argued the policy could prompt social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to block more content than necessary, stifle free speech and create sympathy for far-right, anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted.
“It might be the case that we need to make changes to it but the basic approach that we need rules is absolutely right and necessary,” she added.
Acknowledging that regulating the online world is “of course very controversial,” Merkel insisted “the internet is not a legal vacuum.”