Sunday, December 27, 2020

Poland Announces New Fines For Big Tech For Censorship

Poland just stopped big tech censorship in its tracks

While conservative voices in the U.S. continue to point to censorship and suppression of their social media posts, the conservative government of Poland has issued a new law to hold the companies accountable.

Big Tech companies may face an eye-popping $2.2 million fine if they violate the new ruling and censor any lawful free speech online, according to Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro is apparently taking the issue of censorship and freedom of speech quite seriously in the nation in central Europe.

The new legal measure announced last week, established a special court for freedom of speech and allows internet users to file complaints against the companies if they feel their posts have been arbitrarily removed from the platforms, as many conservatives in the U.S. have alleged.

If there is no violation of Polish law, the social media companies cannot remove content or block accounts, according to the draft of the “Act for the Freedom to Express One’s Views and Obtain and Disseminate Information on the Internet.”

“In Germany, the Minister of Justice may arbitrarily decide what content needs to be eliminated from the Internet. This is the introduction of censorship. We want to balance the freedom of public debate,” Ziobro explained.

Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice, noted that it is “supposed to protect against excessive interference of the moderators of this content.”

If users feel their posts were unfairly or unlawfully removed or blocked, they have to send a formal complaint to the companies which will have 24 hours to review and respond.

“Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the court for the return of access,” PolandIn explained. “The court will consider complaints within seven days of receipt and the entire process is to be electronic.”

In the U.S., as the November elections drew dear, Facebook, Twitter and other companies began to implement more controls over content on the social media platforms, limiting, flagging and sometimes locking out users from their own accounts.

Conservative pundit and best-selling author Candace Owens announced just after Election Day that she would be filing a lawsuit against Facebook and fact-checkers for censoring her posts and content.

In Poland, Ziobro called out the censorship that is often aimed at those who have different ideological viewpoints.

“Often, the victims of tendencies for ideological censorship are also representatives of various groups operating in Poland, whose content is removed or blocked, just because they express views and refer to values that are unacceptable from the point of view of communities… with an ever-stronger influence on the functioning of social media,” Ziobro said.

If the special court finds that the social media company has been in violation of the ruling, the Office of Electronic Communications can subject the internet service to a fine of up to €1.8 million euros, the equivalent $2.2 million U.S. dollars.

“The Left tries to define any fundamental criticism of its views or ideology as ‘hate speech’, and then expects such content to be censored or even punished… the left is trying to consistently implement its anti-democratic aspirations,” Kaleta said in a recent interview.

“This law is a response to what they are trying to impose on us as legal norms,” he added, “that is, forcing us to censor with political correctness and refrain from expressing one’s opinion.”

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