Logo in front of TikTok offices in California
Photo: MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS
TikTok is suing the administrative court in Cologne against one of the most important German laws for social media companies.
The lawsuit is primarily directed against Section 3a of the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), as a spokesman for the administrative court confirmed to SPIEGEL.
The law is intended to ensure that the operators of social networks consistently delete criminal content and take action against those who spread illegal content such as hate speech or calls for violence on the platforms.
The specific regulation of the NetzDG, against which TikTok is suing, obliges the company to forward information about its users to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) if they have posted criminal content.
(Read more about the background of the planned BKA central office here.)
With the lawsuit, TikTok is defending itself against this obligation for proactive reporting.
However, the company is likely to stick to its previous approach in the future, of handing over data to the BKA on request in individual cases.
The company is late with its lawsuit.
The company filed them with the Cologne Administrative Court on Tuesday, January 25, just seven days before the BKA central office begins work on February 1.
According to SPIEGEL information, the BKA does not assume that the company will report content to the central office anyway.
The BKA had originally expected to receive tens of thousands of reports per month when it was introduced.
Facebook and YouTube are already suing
Experts have criticized in the past that TikTok does not act consistently and uniformly against hate comments and extremist content.
For example, the company would not always have deleted videos with swastikas, even if they were reported.
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The Google subsidiary YouTube and the Facebook group (today Meta) had already filed summary proceedings against the corresponding rules of the NetzDG in July.
TikTok has apparently decided against joining the two companies' lawsuit.
As a spokesman for the Cologne administrative court confirmed to SPIEGEL, TikTok, like YouTube, is also suing against the so-called counter-presentation procedure.
This is intended to enable users to lodge complaints against the company's deletion decisions in a simple and timely manner.
TikTok apparently fundamentally questions deletion regulations
Unlike Facebook, for example, TikTok is also suing another important aspect of the Network Enforcement Act.
This is a regulation that obliges companies like TikTok to delete obviously criminal content after 24 hours at the latest if it has been reported to the company by users.
This regulation of the NetzDG has basically been in force for some time and has not yet been legally questioned by the social media companies.