Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, has declared that he will neither restrict German IP addresses from his accessing his site, nor implement German censorship regulations, following a demand from the country’s government.
In a blog post, Torba, who has been running Gab since its inception in 2016, revealed that the free speech social network had received “a huge packet of documents with fines and legal threats” from German authorities, due to the fact that Gab has never enforced the country’s controversial Network Enforcement Act, known more commonly by the NetzDG acronym.
This act, which came into force in January 2018, gives the German government the power to issue massive fines and sanctions against social networks with a userbase of over 2 million that do not censor what it determines to be “harmful content,” with the focus reportedly meant to be on “fake news” and “misinformation.” These companies then also have to provide detailed reports twice a year, in German, about what they’re doing to enforce the act.
Torba noted that there were three options that Gab therefore had in dealing with the action from the German government. They could enforce the act, do nothing and “pick a fight” with the government, or block German IPs from accessing the site. While many supporters of Torba and Gab, and his legal team, suggested that the third option was the best, Torba said that it “doesn’t sit right” with him, announcing he will be taking a stand against “the entire nation state of Germany,” despite the fact that it would mean he would likely never to be able to leave the US again.
“Why should we block an entire country from accessing Gab because their government is sending us fines we won’t pay and veiled legal threats that mean nothing to Gab as a US corporation?” Torba queried. “The reality is the German government has zero authority or jurisdiction over how we operate Gab… We are Americans… [and] in America you play by our rules, we don’t play by yours,” he added, saying that he has “nothing but love for the German people and they too deserve the fundamental human right to speak freely on the internet.”
Despite the rejection of the enforcement of the NetzDG, Torba confirmed that he was willing to continue working with German police in dealing with “matters pertaining to serious crime,” and will ensure those forces receive “prompt assistance” from him and his team. What we will not do is restrict access to, or remove, content which is legal in the United States on or from servers in the United States,” he confirmed.