The German government is looking to grant powers to courts to block the social media accounts of citizens who engage in ‘digital violence’.
Earlier this week, the Federal Ministry of Justice called for the creation of a “law against digital violence” under which German courts could ban social media accounts of individual users and even force companies to unmask their identity if the account was anonymous.
The proposal would target those who are deemed to be “notorious violators in the digital space”, particularly anonymous trolls, the Tagesschau broadcaster reported.
The ministry said that the drastic measure of a court banning an account should only be taken if other methods, such as censoring an indivdual post, have been exhausted. The government agency went on to say that the state bans should only be put into place for a “reasonable period of time.”
Ulf Buermeyer, a lawyer and chairman of the dubiously named Society for Civil Liberties, celebrated the government’s censorious plans, saying: “Why should you be able to offend someone?”.
Buermeyer argued that the measure was necessary as merely deleting an offensive post has little impact on deterence as it often has spread widely on the internet before being taken down and therefore blocking accounts may be more impactful in preventing such speech.
The legislation would come on top of the draconian Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) in Germany, which already requires social media companies to remove “illegal content” such as hate speech or insults.