Intermediaries are facilitators between the providers of information and their users.
Following the State Media Treaty (§2 (2) Clause 13b), media intermediaries are relevant for our work. Media intermediaries are defined as those who make the content of third parties accessible by aggregating, selecting, and presenting it. They select algorithmic mechanisms to use for this purpose.
According to this, social networks (e.g. Facebook), video sharing services (e.g. YouTube), and search engines (e.g. Google) are considered intermediaries.
Why does the media regulatory authority focus on intermediaries?
We are committed to the freedom of speech, and because intermediaries influence opinion, it is our duty to ensure that opinions can be formed freely and independently even when using intermediaries.
Each of us uses intermediaries every day to gather information on the Internet. In doing so, most people rely on a few major intermediaries which have the potential to influence access to information due to their key intermediary roles. Thus, social networks, search engines, and video portals play an ever growing role in the opinion-forming process.
The Research Monitor for Information Intermediaries
If we seek to ensure free opinion-making is possible even on the Internet, we have to involve intermediaries in our oversight because in addition to user protection, we are also obliged by law to safeguard plurality. Legislation states that it must be possible for people using media to access a variety of service and channels, as well as diverse opinions and positions. For this purpose, legislators have also envisaged intermediary regulation for the first time as part of the new State Media Treaty.
We research, analyse and position ourselves
– and we will also regulate beginning in autumn 2020.
In addition to ongoing research projects and our work at the European level relating to the handling and assessment of media intermediaries, we are currently preparing to regulate media intermediaries in the future. When the State Media Treaty takes effect – currently scheduled for in autumn 2020 – the media authorities in Germany will be authorised to review the media intermediaries' compliance with regulations relating to transparency and the freedom from discrimination.
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