Germany is a federal republic with sixteen states, but legislation in counter-terrorism is within the exclusive competence of the federal parliament in Berlin. The country’s criminal law is influenced by its membership in the United Nations and the European Union. Relevant actors in counter-terrorism and cyber-security are the intelligence services, the police, the Federal Office for Information Security, and platforms for cooperation between several authorities. Terrorism is criminalized at the federal level by the Criminal Code, which is applicable to both offline and online crimes. Germany has some of the most stringent legislation of online terrorist content and hate speech in the world. The Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz- NetzDG), Germany’s anti-hate speech regulation, has been effective since January 1, 2018. The Act mandates that social media networks that do not remove “obviously illegal” posts within 24 hours of being told of the material face fines of up to €5,000,000. The law is applicable to social media platforms with over 2 million users in Germany, notably Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It is also expected to affect platforms including Reddit, Tumblr, and the Russian social network site VK.
STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND LAWS
The White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr (2016) focuses on German security, including terrorism and cyber security. It provides an insight into how to tackle these issues.
The Counter-Terrorism File Law establishes a terrorist database to be used by police and intelligence services.
The German IT Security Act deals with “critical infrastructure”. It obliges operators of critical infrastructure to provide adequate state-of-the-art security for the IT necessary for providing their services. The bill included a section that would force social media organizations to retain user data. However, this section was removed before it was made into law.
Section 14 of the Telemedia Act allows the authorities to request personal data.
The Telecommunications Act obliges the authority in charge of the execution of this law to report its suspicions concerning criminal acts – be it a criminal offense including a terrorist offense or an administrative offense – to the Public Prosecutor’s office or the competent administrative authority.
Cyber Defense Center (Cyber-Abwehrzentrum)
The Cyber Defense Center encourages cooperation between IT security authorities surrounding cyber issues, including cyber terrorism.
The Federal Criminal Police Office is the federal investigative police agency of Germany. It investigates cases related to international terrorism.
The foreign intelligence agency of Germany, directly subordinated to the Chancellor’s Office.
The Federal Office for Information Security promotes IT security in Germany to the Government and the private sector.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is the German domestic intelligence service.
The Joint Counter-Terrorism Center (GTAZ) is not an independent authority but a cooperation and communication platform for 40 national authorities in the field of internal security.
Joint Internet Centre (Gemeinsames Internetzentrum—GIZ)
The Joint Internet Centre is led by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. It gathers information on terrorist activities in cyberspace and brings together several German intelligence services.