This German state declares war on corona deniers and Telegram – to prevent terror

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Hate, malice, but also radicalization against corona rules are the standard on Telegram. Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) wants to prevent this.

War on corona deniers: Telegram is the preferred platform for opponents of the Corona rules. Unconventional thinkers and corona deniers organize themselves on Telegram to protest against pandemic measures. If Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) has his way, this will all come to an abrupt end.

 war on corona deniers

Lower Saxony wants to remove Telegram from Google and Apple app stores

Protests, sometimes of a violent nature, against the nationwide applicable Corona rules are held again and again. The fear of a further, even greater radicalization of these people is growing. That is why the Minister of the Interior of Lower Saxony , Boris Pistorius (SPD), wants to take a drastic step.

Lower Saxony is calling on Apple and Google to remove the Telegram messenger service from their app stores. Because the demonstrators mostly organize themselves on this platform. “What happens in the Telegram groups and channels contradicts the compliance guidelines of Apple and Google in every respect,” says Pistorius.

Interior Minister Pistorius speaks about the risk of radicalization on the messenger service Telegram and is sounding the alarm about corona deniers. “We urgently need to speak to them and convince them not to sell Telegram anymore. Expect murder and terrorist attacks to occur”

war on corona deniers
Boris Pistorius (SPD), Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister

In the opinion of the Social Democrats, this would at least be feared by the increasing threats. In the meantime, other politicians have also commented on the explosive issue. Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) describes the demonstrators who use the corona protests to defame state institutions as the “vultures of the pandemic”.

Corona demonstrators are “vultures of the pandemic”

Winfried Kretschmann’s exact choice of words was based on Manuel Hagel. The CDU parliamentary group leader in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament accused the AfD MPs of being “political vultures of the pandemic”.

Spreading falsehoods about the pandemic only causes damage at the end of the day and spreads misinformation quickly. It is, to put it in the words of the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), simply “extremely dangerous”.

The veteran of the former ruling party was referring to the extremist part of the protesters. In the “picture” talk, Reul said that they now “not only talk, gossip, incite each other, but also take action”. And for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) it is clear that “the radicals must not be allowed to take on the roads”.

 war on corona deniers

What can Germany do about Telegram?

The radicalized part of the scene wants to spread fear and terror and turn words into deeds. Demonstrations and protests are apparently no longer enough to attract the attention of politicians, argued the radicals. So the state must act. But how? A debate has now broken out about this.

The problem: Those who incite other corona deniers to violence via Telegram can no longer be converted, said Kramer. “They want the riot,” says Kramer – and challenge the state.

Security forces can join such chats, sneak in as supposedly like-minded people and thus read the communication. But the radicalized corona deniers are reacting to it. They delete their chat groups and start new ones. It’s a game of cat and mouse.

Network Enforcement Act is actually supposed to help

The G10 law, for example, enables intelligence services to read encrypted communications under certain conditions. The whole thing is politically controversial. The new federal government made up of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP wants to put the state’s monitoring capabilities to the test and, if necessary, even restrict it. The Network Enforcement Act is also supposed to help the security authorities. According to this, social networks such as Telegram would have to report messages relevant to criminal law to the Federal Criminal Police Office from February onwards, for example threats of murder and rape and other serious hate crimes.

Individual aspects of the existing network enforcement law are indeed sensible, says Konstantin Kuhle, deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group. “For example, the law regulates that platforms operating in Germany must be accessible to the authorities – for example by naming an authorized representative to whom official letters can be sent. Regardless of how one proceeds against criminal content at Telegram, the company must in any case cooperate with the security authorities if it wants to act in Germany. “

 war on corona deniers

“Telegram breaks German law”

The problem: The provider Telegram does not adhere to these rules. “Then the company breaks German law,” emphasizes Kuhle. “The new Federal Minister of the Interior, Faeser, and the new Federal Minister of Justice, Buschmann, rightly make it clear that the state cannot accept this.”

But what does that mean in concrete terms? “So far only cloudy announcements have been heard from the new Federal Minister of the Interior,” said the CDU interior expert Alexander Throm. “We expect her to make specific suggestions.” It should, for example, join the call of the Conference of Interior Ministers for legal regulations that enable criminal offenders to be clearly identified on the Internet.

Identification requirement and log-in trap

The Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, demands that users must be identifiable when sending messages that are criminally relevant. The currently most suitable option seems to be the so-called log-in trap, among other things because it is data-saving. It can also be found in the German government coalition agreement.

If, for example, a radicalized out-of-the-box thinker calls for murder, another user could report the post. If the initial suspicion is confirmed, the police could set the log-in trap. If the same maverick logs in with his account again, the trap snaps and the IP address is intercepted. The police could use this data to inquire about the identity of the telecommunications provider.

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