Network Enforcement Act: eco Association Cautions Against Further Bureaucratic Constraints on Social Networks

After prolonged negotiations, the CDU/CSU and SPD parties have now agreed on a revised draft amendment to the German Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). At the end of last year, the European Commission also presented the Digital Services Act (DSA), which overlaps with the future regulations of the NetzDG. In this context, eco – Association of the Internet Industry warns against unilaterally defining further requirements for social network operators at the national level until the interplay between the DSA and the NetzDG has been conclusively regulated.

“The reforms to amend the NetzDG, which have been up for discussion since last year, are once again confronting social network providers with considerable – and additional – administrative and bureaucratic requirements. Due to legislative imprecision, for months now there has been great legal and planning uncertainty for the companies concerned,” says eco Managing Director Alexander Rabe. “Instead of national solo efforts, we now quickly need uniform European regulations and standards which are in line with the legislation of individual EU states.”

eco is also critical of the new regulations and further requirements in the new draft for justifying deleted content according to community standards, as well as a so-called “research clause”, based on which information on the content and dissemination of hate postings is to be opened up for research in the future. “The justification clause will create further bureaucratic burdens for the operators of social networks that will also be disproportionate relative to their real benefit for users,” says Rabe.

eco’s Managing Director also expresses reservations on the research clause. “Some of the information involved is sensitive company data,” says Rabe. “Here, in particular, the legal design of the clause is crucial – for whom the data can ultimately be viewed and what it is used for.” In this context, he also warns against the misuse of data by third parties. Rabe: “If detailed research leads to the authors of hate posts obtaining the equivalent of ‘training material’ for their actions, this will help neither the operators of social networks nor society. The overriding goal must be responsible use of the Internet by users and effective combating of hate speech and right-wing extremism on the Internet by law enforcement agencies.”


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