New legal situation: child abuse, doxing and agitation are punished more severely

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A change in the penal code provides for harsher penalties for child abuse, inflammatory insults and doxxing. Distributing publicly available information about people with the intention of committing a criminal offense is a criminal offense, as is incitement to hatred via private messages in social networks.

According to Paragraph 130a of the Criminal Code and Paragraph 176e of the Criminal Code, among other things, not only the possession of child pornographic content, but also the dissemination of information about places where children often stay and the provision of detailed instructions on the abuse of minors are punishable . The legislature saw it necessary to strengthen the previous protection under criminal law, as investigators have come across more and more relevant documents in the recent past. With the new legal situation, perpetrators are now threatened with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine for the offenses mentioned, whereby the penalty for accessing and possession of abuse instructions begins with a minimum penalty of two years.

Dissemination of public information for criminal offenses is now also punishable

With, among other things, Paragraph 126a, the “dangerous dissemination of personal data” is also newly regulated, which also includes Paragraph 86. The new package of laws against so-called “doxxing” includes in its criminal assessment illegal acts “against sexual self-determination, physical integrity, personal freedom or against something of significant value”. Anyone who in the future already disseminates personal information from public sources with the aim of harming the relevant persons or persons close to them is to be punished with a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine according to the new case law. If the disseminated information comes from sources that are not publicly available, the sentence increases to imprisonment for up to three years. Exceptions are, as usual, the reporting of current events.

Hate speech should also be punished more severely

The legislature decided to take stronger action against agitation, as the previous tools for containment were not considered sufficient. So far, a private message with inflammatory content that was spread on social networks did not meet the relevant criteria, even if it contained statements against the recipient that were worthy of punishment. After the number of both right-wing and left-wing extremist statements on social media has risen sharply, the legislature has been forced to act, which is now taken into account by tightening the legal situation – for example in the form of Section 192a of the Criminal Code. According to this, anyone who in the future distributes content that is likely to attack the human dignity of others will be punished with a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine with immediate effect. This includes religious or ethnic origin as well as the areas of belief, disability or sexual orientation.

Doxxing is increasing

As early as the middle of the year, the Federal Council had spoken out in favor of tightening the legal situation that had previously been in force. This was preceded, among other things, by various incidents with Doxxing as a background: For example, at the beginning of 2019, unknown persons had copied sensitive data from hundreds of politicians and published it online. These included not only data and documents, but also chat logs, telephone numbers and information about credit cards. Almost all parties in the Bundestag were affected by the data theft at the time. The dates themselves were published in a kind of advent calendar until December 20, 2018. At the time, the attacker was said to have focused primarily on attention.