Polish anti-censorship law will prohibit Big Tech from shadow banning
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WARSAW, Poland, February 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The proposed Polish law to curb social media censorship of legal speech will prohibit even shadow banning, with a maximum fine of over $2 million.
In a recent interview with Breitbart London, Poland’s Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta stated that users will be told when a social media company tries to minimize their visibility on its platform.
“Every time an algorithm is used to limit reach, the user will be informed if and why his reach is being limited,” Kaleta said. He added that “the process of using algorithms to suppress particular views, as long as they do not break Polish law, [will] be regulated.”
Social media companies that break Poland’s freedom of speech law “will be fined.”
According to Breitbart, Kaleta responded to conservative misgivings about demanding free speech rights on Big Tech platforms (because they belong to “private companies”) by pointing out that there are already laws regarding business practices.
“Since we have laws regarding banking, telecommunications, the armaments industry, and many other fields, we should also regulate Big Tech,” he said.
Kaleta compared social media to basic technological services as telephone companies and light bulb manufacturers, and observed that as businesses Big Tech companies have no real competition.
“The owners of social media companies are not running just any business. The Big Tech companies are now monopolies,” the Deputy Minister said. “I mean, imagine if Alexander Graham Bell were to decide who can speak through the telephone and Thomas Edison decided where lightbulbs were to be used?”
In December, Poland’s Justice Minster Zbigniew Ziobro stated that the new freedom of expression law would allow Poles to file a complaint against social media companies if their online comments are erased by a company’s moderators or if the company blocks them.
According to Polish online magazine “Poland In,” the justice minister wants to reassure Poles that their free speech rights will be protected.
“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.
According to Polish online media portal ONET, the justice minister said there were “many examples” which “show the absurdity of decisions of different private authorities, international corporations, who censor comments either of politicians or of private users.”
Ziobro acknowledged that it was not an “easy subject”, and that the internet should also have a “sphere of guarantees” for anyone who feels slandered and a “sphere of limitation” against content that works against the “sphere of freedom” of others.
“But we would like to propose such tools that will enable both one side and the other to call for the decision of a body that will be able to adjudicate whether content appearing on such and such a social media account really violates personal rights, whether it can be eliminated, or whether there is censorship,” he continued.
If the Freedom of Speech Council were to decide in favor of the censored social media user against the social media company, the latter could be fined up to 8 million Polish złoty (approximately $2.2 million).
Hungary is following Poland into the fight against social media censorship. Last week Hungary’s Justice Minister, Judit Varga, indicated that she was going to submit a bill later this year to “regulate the domestic operations of large tech companies.”
“Today anyone can be disconnected from the online space without the possibility of any formal, transparent, fair procedure and legal remedy,” Varga wrote.
According to yesterday’s Financial Times, Varga also said regarding Facebook that she had been shadow banned herself. “Ms Varga also complained that mainstream social media sites ‘limit the visibility of Christian, conservative, right wing opinions’ and accused ‘power groups behind global tech giants’ of having the power to decide elections,” the newspaper reported.