German Court Slaps YouTube with 100,000 Euro Fine for Deleting and Censoring COVID-19 Protest Video

A court in Germany has imposed a 100,000 Euro fine on YouTube for wrongly removing a COVID-19 protest video and refusing to reinstate it for weeks.

YouTube initially removed a video in late January covering lockdown protests in Switzerland, claiming it violated its “COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy.” Then on April 20 the Dresden Regional High Court (OLG), according to the German-language news site WELT, issued a preliminary injunction that required YouTube to immediately reinstate the video. But the Google-owned video sharing platform only did so on May 14, almost one full month later.

Last Monday the Dresden OLG called YouTube’s delayed compliance with their injunction an “intentional” and “serious” violation and slapped them with a fine of 100,000 Euros.

“With this historically high fine, the OLG makes it very clear that court decisions must be observed without qualification,” said Joachim Steinhöfel, a lawyer representing the affected YouTube channel. “It doesn’t matter whether YouTube supposes a violation of its guidelines or not.”

Per WELT, the Dresden OLG justified its injunction on the grounds that YouTube did not “effectively incorporate” the modified guidelines on “COVID-19 misinformation” into its contract with the channel that posted the video.

“A contract amendment is required,” writes WELT. “The mere indication that there could be future changes is not sufficient.”

In response to the fine, a spokesperson for YouTube told WELT that “we have a responsibility to connect our users with trustworthy information and combat misinformation during COVID-19. This is a case-by-case decision that we respect and will review accordingly.”

Big League Politics reported in June that Google censored search results pertaining to the second-class treatment of West Point cadets who did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

The search phrase “west point military cadets one week quarantine” was entered into both Google and a smaller search engine called DuckDuckGo. Similar phrases with changed wording such as “military cadets one week quarantine” were also used, producing similar results. Unlike Google and other large search engines, DuckDuckGo vows to never store the personal information of any user. 

Images of the findings and relevant captions can be found below, with DuckDuckGo showing recently relevant articles on the top of the first page. Google, on the other hand, has nothing regarding West Point Academy’s recent policy until one clicks to the fourth page of the search engine, only to find a single article on the topic mid-page. Interestingly, Google props West Point Academy’s COVID-19 related website posts to the top results, whereas DuckDuckGo does not. Same search, two different stories.