The German government wants all EU states to remove postings on Hamas solidarity from the Internet. Providers of digital services had to delete a lot of content relating to the Gaza war on the orders of the Federal Criminal Police Office.
The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has ordered the deletion of hundreds of postings on websites and social media following the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October. This was confirmed by a spokesperson at the request of “nd”. According to the statement, the authority has so far sent over 240 so-called removal orders to online services. The providers have complied with this request in a timely manner. The majority of the orders were directed against content from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (PIJ), the spokesperson explained. A further 230 orders were directed at the messaging service Telegram. They affected both individual content and entire channels.
In addition to its own measures, the BKA successfully campaigned with Europol at the beginning of November for an EU-wide “Referral Action Day” to delete Hamas-related internet content. The BKA did not reveal when this campaign, in which police forces from various countries participated, took place. According to the spokesperson, Europol will only report on the date and results in January.
The BKA also sent its 240 removal orders to internet companies via Europol. The EU police agency has been operating an “Internet Referral Unit” for this purpose since 2015. It is tasked with coordinating the removal requests from the 27 member states and filtering out duplicate reports, for example. In 2018, the BKA also set up such a centre, which coordinates removal orders from federal and state police forces.
Initially, online service providers were not obliged to actually take the content reported by the BKA and Europol offline. However, they almost always complied with these notices. Since 2022, a new EU regulation on “preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online” has been in force, according to which the implementation of these requests is mandatory. The services must comply with a deadline of one hour.
Germany, France and Italy recently suggested the Europe-wide prosecution of Hamas websites and their “support networks” in a discussion paper to the Spanish EU Presidency. To this end, the governments should exert pressure on the “social media giants” Meta and Tiktok in particular. The EU law on “Digital Services and Markets”, which will come into force on 24 February 2024, should also be implemented “with a particular focus on Hamas”. The platforms will then have to take “proactive measures” to prevent “disinformation”.
The discussion paper also dealt with the Samidoun network, which supports prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and was banned in Germany on 2 November. The social media accounts of the German section are now offline. When calling up Instagram, the online service, which belongs to Meta, pointed out that it was complying with an order from the German Ministry of the Interior.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: Shouldn’t end up on the internet if it expresses solidarity with Hamas: Pro Palestine protest in Melbourne (Matt Hrkac, Palestine Rally End The Siege, Stop the War on Gaza, CC BY 2.0).