They posted porn on Twitter. The German authorities called the police

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Paulita Paupel, who heads the European adult industry trade body of the Free Speech Coalition, says the measures are having a serious impact on people and their ability to share content online. “People are fleeing the country,” Paupel said. “Most major content creators have relocated to other European countries, particularly Austria, Switzerland and Cyprus.” Others have changed their marketing strategy to avoid Twitter (which affects how much money they can make), and people new to the industry may be discouraged from starting a business, Paul says. “This is mostly affecting LGBTQI+ and BIPOC creators.”

The Internet is abuzz with porn—from Reddit, Snapchat, and Twitter to OnlyFans, PornHub, and xVideos—with millions of people around the world participating in the industry. Globally, it is a big business generating billions of dollars every year. While there are campaigns to control pornography around the world, Germany, despite being one of the biggest consumers of pornography, seems to have a particularly strong brand of enforcement in the West.

“Germany has been very aggressive in suppressing speech,” said Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the US-based Free Speech Coalition. “In this process, I think that Germany has been very aggressive in terms of the scope of its laws and then in the implementation.”

AI monitoring

As of 2019, German media regulators are using an AI system to identify and then find online content that violates the country’s laws. The artificial intelligence system, Kivi, was developed by North Rhine Westphalia’s media authority and a private company based in Berlin, and is now being used by all media authorities across Germany.

KIVI is believed to be able to scan public posts on seven social media and messaging apps, including Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Telegram and VK (Russia’s version of Facebook), as well as websites on the open internet. Meta Facebook and Instagram, which prohibit nudity, are currently not being scanned. According to North Rhine-Westphalia, the device can view 10,000 pages per day. Shortly after the officer began using KIVI, the officer’s investigation “skyrocketed,” he said.

A spokesman for North Rhine-Westphalia’s media authority said that since 2021, the authority has found around 5,000 “violations”. The system looks for problematic content by searching for predefined German keywords and links, and the authority said it uses image recognition and text recognition to identify “positive” results.

Ella Jakubowska, senior policy adviser at civil rights non-profit European Digital Rights (EDRI), says that when big tech companies or governments curtail content, people’s human rights are at risk. “But the idea of ​​government bodies policing what we do and don’t see online seems pretty alarming in itself,” says Jakubowska.

KIVI seeks out several types of content, including political extremism and genocide denial, violence and pornography. However, according to figures shared by the media authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, 1,944 incidents of obscenity “violations” have been reported in the past two years. The spokesperson said the system will show potential violations of the law and then human investigators will analyze the results and decide what action should be taken. Berlin Authority Plus “KIVI protects employees from sudden and unexpected exposure to stressful content.”

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