German police are sending a clear message against racism and xenophobic content on the internet.
German police did house raids all over Germany on July 13, targeting individuals accused of seeding hateful content online. A press release by Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) or the German federal police agency said that the police sought out and entered the homes of about 60 individuals on that day. A majority of the suspects were believed to be posting xenophobic and anti-Semitic content among other extremists. This operation was done over 14 provinces and involved 25 departments of the police. About 40 legal investigations were started. This is the first time that the German police have done raids all over the nation on the issue of hateful content posted on social media.
Free speech laws of Germany are not applicable to any action promoting racial discrimination, inciting violence, Nazism and Holocaust denial. According to Holger Munch, the president of BKA, the action makes it clear that the police authorities of state and federal governments are firmly against any kind of incitement and hate on internet. Hate crimes have significantly increased after the onset of the European refugee situation. Refugee shelters are attacked due to the attackers being radicalized. Munch said radicalization of people starts in the social networks. It is therefore imperative to stop any online criminal content.
Germany created a special task force in 2015 to arrest any incidence of hate speech. The force in its initial days struggled to get Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to comply. However, the German government signed an agreement with Google, Facebook and Twitter to actively delete all hate speech within a span of 24 hours after they are reported.
As per German news reports, the raids were the result of many months of observation of a particular Facebook group which extolled National Socialism or Nazism. The group also broke a number of German laws which forbid the promotion of hate.
The arrested suspects were duly accused of posting xenophobic, extremist and anti-Semitic messages. The charges brought against them included denying the Holocaust. The celebration of particular aspects of the National Socialism and the use of Nazi symbolism were also considered. Many such people called for attacks to be done on politicians and refugees. Evidence was collected from a number of locations. According to Thomas de Maiziere, hate speech makes way to actual physical violence, and thus the crackdown was necessary.
German police raid homes in crackdown on anti-refugee “hate speech” posted on Facebook https://t.co/Mwq5uL9nR7
— Richard Wellings (@RichardWellings) July 17, 2016