Europe

Germany’s closure of Indymedia feeds debate over online censorship

The German government has shut down the German branch of Indymedia, a global network that purports to be a platform for grassroots journalism and online activism.

Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière ordered the closure of inksunten.indymedia.org on August 25, after a police raid on its supporters turned up knives, batons and catapults.

De Maizière said that the site’s supporters were linked to the violence that accompanied the G20 summit in Hamburg in early July.

According to a report from Reuters, the minister told a news conference that “for years they have been using this platform to express hate against those who think differently as well as representatives of this country.”

“They call for attacks against individuals and businesses,” De Maizière said.

The closure was sharply criticised by Patrick Schiffer, the chairman of Germany’s branch of the Pirate Party, an international political organisation that lobbies for direct democracy and internet transparency.

In a statement, Schiffer said that the site’s closure threatened to “stifle” free expression, and that the move was motivated by De Maizière’s desire to be seen as a conservative hardliner in Germany’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

Simon Kowalewski of the Pirate party’s Berlin branch went further, labelling the move “authoritarian” and an “attack” on free expression.

Key context:

  • Indymedia was one of Germany’s first examples of Open-Publishing.
  • The site’s closure comes against a backdrop of heightened political polarisation across the Western world.
  • Political violence, including at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, in the U.S., as well as in Hamburg, has been linked to a rise in online hate speech and radical rhetoric.
  • President Donald J. Trump lashed out at coverage of the Charlottesville violence, calling the journalists who criticised his response “truly dishonest people”.
  • Trump was criticised the following week by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for attacking the freedom of the press, including his repeated references to “fake news”.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s spokesman, Steffen Seibert,criticised the Charlottesville demonstration as “outrageous racism, anti-Semitism and hate in its most despicable form”.

Closed Indymedia website from German government

website linksunten.indymedia.org  W as closed on Friday.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière ordered the site was closed. According to news reports, De Maizière closed the site for “sowing hate against different opinions and representatives of the country. He   linked the site to left-wing extremist.

Patrick Schiffer for The Pirates Party   has issued a statement stating that the government’s task is to ensure security, but also free expression and press, according to the constitution.

Simon Kowalewski, forThe Pirate Party of Berlin described the closure as “a scandalous act of an authoritarian government”.

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Talk (5)

Ingrid Strauch

"I would like to suggest to update the..."

Gregorio Bisso

"Hi Jack, i write well in Italian. F..."

Jack Barton

"Hi Gregorio, I thought this was inter..."

Gregorio Bisso

"Is ok now? :-) Thank!"


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Simply, a man. I was born and live in Genoa, Italy. Writer. Blogger and wikipedian since 2003. Passions: culture, arts, music, media, tech, human rights, software, social impact, freedom culture, freedom press.

History for Story "Germany’s closure of Indymedia feeds debate over online censorship"

  1. Gregorio Bisso upadate movie url
  2. Peter Bale Removed comment in background and claims about white nationalist crimes.
  3. Linh Nguyen minor edits
  4. Jack Barton Revisions for news style
  5. Vasin Douglas I have added some clarity and fact check (Vasin)
  6. Gregorio Bisso little revisions of style
  7. Alberto Rosso Migliorata la traduzione, enhanced the italian translation.
  8. Gregorio Bisso add background and why interesting
  9. Jonathan Cardy copy edit
  10. Gregorio Bisso more info
  11. Gregorio Bisso style italic for name
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Germany’s closure of Indymedia feeds debate over online censorship

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    I would like to suggest to update the story because in the meantime media interpretations of statements of Thomas de Maizière as reported here

    „Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière ordered the closure of linksunten.indymedia.org on August 25, after a police raid on its supporters turned up knives, batons and catapults.”

    have been proved wrong. In short: The finding of the weapons just played a subordinated role in connection with the order to close the website. Finding out to whom the weapons belong to is subject of inquiries. The minister neither states nor dements whether the weapons belong to the presumed operators of the closed website. This has been revealed after German media asked the minister for clarification.

    For details please see the report of the ARD-faktenfinder, the fact checking service of the Association of Public Broadcasting Corporations in the Federal Republic of Germany (ARD), published on August 27:

    http://faktenfinder.tagesschau.de/inland/plattform-verbot-109.html

    A spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) told the ARD-Faktenfinder that, indeed, the police raids had been performed in connection with the shut down of linksunten.indymedia.org and therefore stood in connection with the operators of the website. The weapons however happened to be found just incidently while putting the ban of the website in effect, the finding of the weapons had played a subordinated role in connection with the closure of the website. Source: “Auf Nachfrage sagte eine Sprecherin des Bundesinnenministeriums den ARD-faktenfindern, dass ‘die Durchsuchungen selbstverständlich im Zusammenhang mit dem Verbot und somit auch mit den Betreibern der Plattform’ gestanden hätten. Die Waffenfunde seien jedoch ‘Zufallsfunde im Zusammenhang mit dem Vollzug des Verbotes’ und spielten daher “im Zusammenhang mit dem Verbot eine nachgeordnete Rolle'”.

    Furthermore the ARD-Faktenfinder cites the blog Netzpolitik.org, which had been told by the BMI, that the weapons had not been found in a private dwelling but in the “Freiburger autonomen Kulturzentrum KTS”. The next day (i. e. Sunday) the BMI demented by telling to dpa (German Press Agency): “Wem die Waffen zuzuordnen sind, ist Gegenstand der Ermittlungen” – finding out to whom the weapons belong to is subject of inquiries.

  2. Rewrite

    Hi Gregorio, I thought this was interesting and definitely something we would cover – either as a news report (when we are live) or as part of a more in-depth look at online censorship in the age of heightened online rhetoric.
    I have edited quite heavily to make it more news-style as this was inspired by a specific news event (the site closure), if you’d like to make it part of a more in-depth piece as I said above, I would be happy to discuss. Out of interest, how did you translate it? We are hoping to get the “WikiTribune Project Translations” up to speed ASAP.
    As several people had already contributed I have left the original beneath the new draft for now so that everyone can see my changes. Please let me know if you have issues with them or would like to discuss further.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Jack, i write well in Italian.
      For this reason, i look for writing, writing synthetically. So it’s easier to translate into English, for me and also others.
      I tried to be neutral in reporting the news.
      But it looked like a little news agency, before.
      I have no observation to do for how it is now.
      Unless Indymedia was world reality as a model for open publishing, not in Germany, but in the world.

      I also tried not to report the news to Germany, not to USA, not to Trumph, so that it could be understood that it applies to every nation and country (Turchia, Germany, Usa or all others ..)

      I have tried not to give opinions, nor to support them, with the reasons given by the minister, having seen in the past in History , as well as some reasons may not be true and false.

      Thank for yours Remarks and work
      A Hug!
      gregorio

  3. Rewrite

    Interesting story, Gregorio. Can you fill in the gaps on significance and background on this? Why does it matter in the context of Germany right now?

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