Angela Merkel’s government is preparing a new bill that will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hand over data, including passwords, of those accused of engaging in “hate speech” online.
Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), is preparing the bill, which will force service providers, email hosts, online retailers, and others to give the government the usernames, passwords, IP addresses, and more of suspects, MDR reports.
Lambrecht was slammed by many over the proposal, with Hamburg’s data protection officer Johannes Caspar calling it an attack on privacy.
“The fight against the ugly phenomena of right-wing extremism and hate crime apparently acts as a door opener for a comprehensive expansion of state control powers,” he warned.
The German minister defended herself and the bill, claiming that the passwords and data would only be requested as part of a court order and only in serious cases.
“It is not a question of asking for passwords en masse, it is a completely wrong representation and not at all the point and purpose,” she said.
Populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician Joana Cotar said the proposed legislation was a “fight against the free Internet” and argued it would be used to silence citizens critical of the German government.
The far-left Die Linke agreed with the AfD, accusing the government of setting up a surveillance state.
Germany already has one of the most draconian sets of laws concerning “hate” on social media, including approving legislation imposing fines of up to 50 million euros on social media companies who do not remove hate content in what the government considers a timely manner.
The German authorities are also known to engage in large-scale raids of citizens accused of spreading “hate speech” online, with a 2016 raid seeing 60 homes searched across 14 states.