NetzDG fines: Justice Minister Buschmann wants to get telegram with trick


The operator of the messenger service Telegram, which is officially based in Dubai, has not yet been reached by German judicial authorities and can therefore not be punished under the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) now wants to test a new procedure in order – at least indirectly – to get at the company.

The Federal Office of Justice had already sent two hearing letters to Telegram about NetzDG violations in the spring. The authority complains that the provider has not named a contact person for authorities and has not set up a complaints procedure for criminal content. The operator has not yet responded, although penalties of up to 55 million euros are threatened. An official request for mutual legal assistance is now being sent to the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is to forward the documents to Telegram. However, such procedures are lengthy, and up to now there has been no reaction here either.

The local judiciary now wants to “rely on public service by publication in the Federal Gazette” if the letters are not delivered within a reasonable period of time, Buschmann explained in a statement a few days ago Interview with the “Passauer Neue Presse”. The required delivery is fictitious through the public display. The Federal Office of Justice could then impose a fine on Telegram for the alleged Netz-DG violations.

However, it would also remain open how this decision could be enforced from a largely uncooperative provider and how the money could be collected. Buschmann can imagine intervening in the financial flows to the company. The Telegram founders had already announced that they would sell advertising and introduce a payment model.

The messenger service originally made a name for itself by helping activists in Belarus, Hong Kong and Russia to criticize their governments and arrange demonstrations. In the meantime, however, it has also become a gathering place for right-wing extremists, corona deniers and other “lateral thinkers”. Since November alone, hundreds of calls for murder against people from politics, science, medicine, authorities and the media have been launched in Germany.

“Telegram continues to give us great concern,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) on Friday at a “fireside chat” of the conference of interior ministers look through in Stuttgart. “But things are moving.” There have been initial contacts between your company and those responsible at Telegram. She did not want to give details yet.

The social democrat emphasized that talks with the US companies Google and Apple had also been successful. They should remove the associated mobile application from their app stores, as incitement to hatred and violence violated the terms of service. Since a lot of pressure had been built up, Faeser was “cautiously optimistic”.

In addition to Telegram, according to security authorities, an online platform registered in the USA is also driving the radicalization of members. “Gettr is also showing increasing user numbers in Germany and is being used increasingly, especially in the right-wing extremist scene,” quotes the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” from a response from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to a written question from the CDU member of the Bundestag, Michael Brand.

According to the department, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is currently monitoring the development of the social network. The results should then be made available to the police authorities of the federal states. According to the report, experts fear that there could be evasive movements if Telegram is controlled more closely in the future and more criminal content is deleted in this country.

Gettr describes itself as a “marketplace of ideas”. Jason Miller, a former adviser and spokesman for ex-US President Donald Trump, founded the Twitter-based platform. It started in July as an alternative to Facebook & Co. and, according to the makers, is part of the fight against the “cancel culture”.


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