Twitter (TWTR.N) has filed a lawsuit in Germany against a rule that takes effect on Tuesday and requires social media companies to block or delete criminal content as soon as possible, as well as to report particularly serious criminal offences to the police, according to a German court that confirmed the lawsuit on Monday.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Cologne’s administrative court, a provision of Germany’s expanded anti-hate speech regulations that permits Twitter users’ information about them to be shared with law enforcement before it is clear that a crime has been committed is being challenged.
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson expressed concern that the law would result in a significant erosion of citizens’ fundamental rights.
“We are particularly concerned that the requirement to proactively share user data with law enforcement forces private companies to act as prosecutors by reporting users to law enforcement even when there is no evidence of illegal behaviour.”
Germany enacted the anti-hate speech law in early 2018, making online social networks YouTube, Facebook (FB.O) and Twitter responsible for policing and removing toxic content.
The law, which also required social networks to publish regular reports on their compliance, was widely criticised as ineffective, and parliament in May passed legislation to toughen and broaden its application.
It is hoped that the new regulation will assist German law enforcement in better targeting right-wing extremism and hate speech on the internet.