German President: Internet Regulation Could “Take the Wind out of the Sails of Populists”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Daniel Taylor
MAY 7, 2019

In a speech delivered during the re:publica internet conference in Berlin, German President Frank Walter Steinmeier scolded Big Tech platforms for not doing enough to stifle “hate speech” online.

Steinmeier said that new Internet regulations could be the “…most effective way to take the wind out of the sails of
demagogues and populists”.

Thumbing his nose at populists, Steinmeier said that “new liberties need new rules”

The upcoming 70th anniversary of the German Basic Law reminds us of a connection that pre-dates “online” and “offline”: liberty needs rules – and new liberties need new rules. Furthermore, freedom of opinion brings with it responsibility for opinion.

For example, in the area of transparency: as long as casual lies and reputable news reports, as long as checked facts and mere opinion, as long as reason and hate speech appear one after another in people’s newsfeeds, with nothing to distinguish between them, demagogues will have it far too easy. We need the sources of our information to be crystal clear, particularly when political ads are concerned.

Steinmeier went further, saying that these new regulations could “take the wind out of the sails” of populists, and complained that “small groups cause disproportionate amounts of noise”:

Responsible citizens should know all this. And by the way: creating transparency about cash flows and dependencies involved is still the most effective way to take the wind out of the sails of demagogues and populists. We have seen a few cases of this, both in Germany and abroad – and we should keep this up! As any politician or journalist with a social media account will have realised, and studies repeatedly corroborate this, relatively small groups cause disproportionate amounts of noise.

The Rest…HERE

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