BERLIN, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) discussed a new, controversial legislative bill against hate speech on Friday.
The bill, submitted to parliament in April, will see social media companies subject to fines of up to 50 million euros (55.96 million U.S. dollars) for failing to remove hate speech and fake news.
Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD) aims to force operators of social networks to delete illegal content such as defamation or hate speech within 24 hours after receipt of a user complaint or one week of being posted.
The legislative bill is heavily criticized by the German Alliance for Freedom of Speech consisting, among others, of high-ranking lawmakers of CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany) and SPD, Germany's digital association Bitkom and the German Federation of Journalists.
The alliance warned against implementing laws against hate speech too hastily without taking into account the underlying causes. It criticized that criminal judicature is being outsourced to private companies.
"I do not see how Facebook, for example, would be qualified to examine the legality of contents," Bavarian Minister for Economic Affairs Ilse Aigner told German news agency DPA.
The legislative bill also encounters criticism from within Maas' ruling coalition. Deputy Chairperson of the CDU parliamentary group Nadine Schoen told German newspaper Das Parlament: "The law has to be improved substantially in order to be accepted by society as a whole."
Maas defends the bill on German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, arguing that "operators of social networks have to respect our laws." The law would serve to enforce this respect to strengthen and protect freedom of speech against those who breach it, according to Maas.
"Hate on the internet is freedom of speech's true enemy. The established practice shows that unfortunately not too much but too little is deleted," Maas said in the Federal Cabinet Friday.
He also pointed out that the operators of social networks are already responsible for deleting illegal content, according to German law.