How are people being tracked over the Internet

Law enforcement on the InternetHate on the net and no end

Reports of hate online have long become a kind of journalistic routine. Football players, for example, have reported on their experiences in the past few weeks. Players who have had enough of the hostility they face on social networks. Or entire associations that criticize Facebook, Twitter and Co. for their handling of the problem and at times, as happened in Great Britain, boycott them for this reason.

Uschi Glas made the headlines in Germany. In a video from the "DUB Unternehmer-Magazin", the actress describes the reactions to her commitment to the federal government's corona vaccination campaign. She was described in emails as a murderer, and some of the verbal attacks were "extremely offensive," said Glas. They find it sad and scary "how much hatred and how much rejection there is in our society".

The Jasmina Kuhnke case: a new dimension

Another case recently reported by some media is that of Jasmina Kuhnke. Her hatred has reached a new dimension: for security reasons, the author and mother of several times decided to move with her family. Her previous address had previously been made public in a video that implied that her head was being shot. A digitally staged death threat immediately followed by dozens of food deliveries in her analogue world - a sign that signals to her: We really know where you live!

(picture alliance / dpa / Franziska Gabbert) "Differently belittled as a woman"
When people talk about hatred, abuse or violence online, they are mostly about social networks. A particular problem there is the tone towards women. This is shown by the example of Twitter, which Amnesty has investigated.

Kuhnke is followed by more than 80,000 people on Twitter. In the "Zeit" it says about the way she appears there: "Sometimes she makes fun of other Twitter users, sometimes she provokes, is polemical. Many people respond with approval. Some with hate. " But identifying those who react with hatred - possibly justifiable - remains a problem, as this case shows.

Digital companies like Twitter do not always pass on IP addresses to the criminal investigation authorities. And even if they do, the question of criminal liability remains. With her, the state security said that one saw no threat situation, the video (with the staged murder fantasy) could not be directly related to her, so it is reported by Kuhnke in the "Zeit".

Landesmedienanstalt: topic is taken seriously

In some places, awareness of this type of crime must still grow, observes Tobias Schmid, lawyer and director of the state media agency in North Rhine-Westphalia, which (like Deutschlandradio) participates in "tracking instead of just deleting", a state initiative NRW against hate speech online. Another problem is the legal assessment of the acts, said Schmid on Deutschlandfunk. This is complicated because at the same time it is always about the right to freely express one's opinion.

Overall, however, the topic has gained in importance in recent years. The state criminal investigation office, public prosecutor's office and the police would take the issue seriously and create new jobs. "But that doesn't happen overnight". Schmid expects that the federal government's new laws will also have an effect.

New rules since April

The new legislative package to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime on the Internet came into force on April 3rd. The law against hatred on the Internet is intended to regulate that providers of social networks should not only block and delete criminal offenses in the future, but also report them to the Federal Criminal Police Office. In addition, threats of criminal offenses are to be punished in the future and insults in front of an audience of millions online are to be punished more severely.

The new rules are "an important cornerstone for strengthening the rights of those affected", praised the non-profit organization HateAid, an advice center for digital violence that also helped Jasmina Kuhnke.

Selection of offers against hatred online and for those affected:
- The organization HateAid sees itself as a counseling and contact point for victims of digital violence.
- The initiative tracking instead of just deleting is an initiative of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia against hate speech online.
- The Report Hate Initiative examines reports for their possible criminal relevance.
- The No Hate Speech Movement is a Council of Europe initiative that aims to empower those affected.
- The website aufhaben-gegen-hass-im-netz.de sees itself as a feminist website against hate speech.
- The state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg has started the #RespektBW campaign for discussion culture in social media.
- The Zebra association offers advice to those affected by right-wing attacks, including on the Internet.