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Free Speech Platform Gab Rejects German Request for Data on User’s Posts Insulting Politician Ricarda Lang

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

The German authorities have attempted to get Gab, a free speech software company, to release personal data identifying a user of its platform, for making comments about a politician’s weight that are considered offensive.

Gab founder and CEO Andrew Torba revealed this in a blog post, reassuring the user community that the request will not be complied with – the response was “a firm rejection,” he wrote. He also provided details of this fairly, even by today’s standards of government speech control and repression, an extraordinary case.

Namely, the user targeted by Berlin made a comment in 2022 that described the Greens politician, Ricarda Lang, as “fat.”

In addition, the user is accused of making two posts that “sexualize” Lang, the sum total of all this, according to the German government (the request came from the German Federal Criminal Police Office), being an attack “on the honor of the politician,” as well as a show of disrespect.

Greens Politician Ricarda Lang.

And that, the notice received by Gab continued, violates the section of the German criminal code that deals with the offense of “insult” (and envisions imprisonment – up to five years according to Torba – or a fine).

From here, things start to spiral: the posts, the federal police said in the request, were in German, so they suspect the user is located in Germany.

But to “confirm the real identity and current location” they wanted Gab to turn over an exhaustive list of personal information, including account ID, registration date and time, and IP address, port number included.

Further, they wanted the user’s full name, date of birth, display name, usernames, email addresses, alternatives included, and phone numbers.

The list goes on: postal and billing addresses, payment method, means of payment – in all instances the data was to be both current and historical.

The German police also wanted ID and proof of address and copies of ID, if available.

“At Gab AI Inc., we stand resolute in our belief that free speech is a fundamental human right and that our users should be able to express themselves without fear of censorship or retaliation,” Torba said.

“We also take the privacy of our users very seriously and will not compromise their civil liberties for the sake of appeasing foreign governments that seek to stifle free speech,” he continued, adding:

“In light of this, we have responded to the German government’s request with a firm rejection. We will not be providing any user data related to the alleged offense, as the speech in question is protected by US law.”

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