'Nazi Shazam' Police Devise App to Curb Far-Right Music

German police have developed a Shazam-like smartphone app that allows them to identify far-right rock songs by playing just a brief sample. It could make it harder for neo-Nazis to lure under-18s with music, which is seen as a "gateway drug" into the scene.

Right-wing extremists at a demonstration in Berlin: Police are hoping to use a smartphone app similar to Shazam to stop the neo-Nazi music.

Right-wing extremists at a demonstration in Berlin: Police are hoping to use a smartphone app similar to Shazam to stop the neo-Nazi music.

German authorities are considering using software akin to a smartphone app that would help them identify neo-Nazi music in seconds, SPIEGEL has learned.

The interior ministers of the country's 16 regional states will meet this week to discuss an new method dubbed "Nazi Shazam," in reference to the mobile phone-based music identification service Shazam, which can identify music bands and song titles from a short sample picked up via the phone's microphone.

The new software would let police quickly identify neo-Nazi rock music, which officials regard as a "gateway drug" into the far-right youth scene.

The regional police office in the eastern state of Saxony has developed a prototype system of registering audio fingerprints from neo-Nazi rock. It has the advantage of "sparing resources and enabling very quick investigations," said an internal government assessment.

Legal Concerns

Police could use it to recognize neo-Nazi music being played on Internet radio stations or to intervene quickly if it is played at gatherings.

Last year, the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors indexed a total of 79 pieces of music for espousing neo-Nazi ideology or having racist lyrics. The indexing imposes restrictions on sales and forbids them from being made accessible to people aged under 18.

It's unclear whether Germany's interior ministers will adopt the system, though. A number of legal issues need to be addressed before it can be deployed. For example, lawyers need to determine whether the automatic identification of music being played in a hall would constitute acoustic surveillance.



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cfrench8 12/02/2013
1. Funny German logic
Does any German see a contradiction here? In another Speigel article today on protests in Ukraine, above, Chancellor Merkel "urged Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych and his government to "do everything possible to always protect freedom of expression and the right to peaceful demonstrations." That, apparently, does not apply to Germany, however. Obviously, it's just fine to ban free expression at right wing rallies in Germany, but not at left wing rallies in Ukraine. You Germans sure have an interesting take on freedom of expression.
freedomzero 12/03/2013
2. optional
No! We are not evil oppressive totalitarians any longer! Let us prove it by giving you some totalitarian censorship!
spon-facebook-672014046 12/10/2013
3. No contradiction at all
Hate speech is not protected by freedom of speech/ Really, that is civics 101. It's almost as if you want the freedom to be Nazi (oh wait, you do...)
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