German govt wants Facebook to share user data at short notice

© Fabrizio Bensch
The German government is considering a law that would oblige social media like Facebook to disclose user data immediately at security services’ request. Authorities say it would help prevent terror attacks from happening at the time “when every 10 seconds count.”

Several German states as well as influential security officials demanded that social media services transfer user data to the authorities at short notice in case of an imminent terror threat, according to Die Welt

Current procedures to getting access to user data involve filing requests to companies like Facebook, which under certain circumstances are “too slow.”

"If it takes less than 10 seconds for a photo in Germany to make it to New Delhi, I expect that Facebook answers requests from law enforcement authorities within an hour,” Thomas Kutschaty, Justice Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia told Die Welt.

According to the newspaper, over the past three years Facebook has responded positively to only 37 data disclosure requests from the German security agencies. Now, German states demand that an obligation to transfer user data be made mandatory under new legislation.

Eva Kuhne-Hormann, Justice Minister of Hessen, said it is critical that “companies like Facebook are obliged by law to better cooperate with law enforcement agencies.”

The remarks have been reinforced by her Bavarian counterpart Winfried Bausback, who said Facebook must be obliged to make its data accessible in Germany: “Only then our security agencies will be able to respond quickly and efficiently in case of [security] threats.

Germany’s Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, said he will examine the states’ proposals. If approved, the data sharing obligation would include revealing data on users nurturing plans for terror attacks.

Chairman of the Justice Ministers’ Conference, Stefan Ludwig, has argued that it should also be mandatory for social media platforms and messenger services to promptly remove “criminal content, including racist, xenophobic comments or remarks of inhuman nature.”

Even Facebook has an economic interest in being a 'clean' platform, but it does too little for having this interest come true," Renate Künast, chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs stressed.