German Security Services Demand Internet Companies to Report “Hate Speech” to Police
Germany's security services said they're seeking greater powers to fight the kind of "far-right extremism" behind the Halle synagogue attack, including requiring internet companies to report "illegal hate speech" to police.
A 27-year-old German man previously unknown to police confessed to carrying out the attack in the eastern city of Halle in which two people were killed.
The suspected gunman, identified by prosecutors only as Stephan B. due to privacy rules, allegedly built the firearms he used with the help of online instructions, posted an "anti-Semitic screed" before the attack and later broadcast the shooting live on a popular gaming site.
In response to the attack and previous incidents, German officials have called for more officers to be devoted to tackling "far-right extremism" and a greater focus on online platforms they say are increasingly being used as a means of spreading "far-right radicalism" and linking up with like-minded people.
Thomas Haldenwang, who heads the BfV domestic intelligence agency, said the attack in Halle and similar shootings in Texas, New Zealand and Norway showed the need for security services to get better tools to tackle "online extremism". In particular, he called for authorities to be given permission to install monitoring software on suspect's devices so as to read their encrypted communication.
Holger Muench, head of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said "online threats" and acts of violence are creating a "climate of fear" in Germany that is deterring people from volunteering for public office.
"Right-wing crimes threaten our democracy," Muench said. "The situation is serious."
Muench said his agency has identified 43 "far-right extremists" they consider a "serious threat", an increase of about a third since the start of the year. Overall, authorities say there are some 12,700 "far-right extremists" in Germany "prepared to use violence."
He called for a bundle of measures including greater scrutiny of "online hate postings", extending the period of time that security services can store data on possible "extremists" and prosecutions of those who create and distribute lists of political enemies.
He also proposed that an existing law requiring platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to swiftly remove "illegal hate speech" should be expanded to force them to report such content to police.
Muench suggested his office could become a central point of contact dealing with "online hate crimes" in the same way it already does for child pornography.
Further proposals include creating a special unit to investigate possible "extremists" in the police and other government departments, and a crackdown on known "far-right groups".