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Freedom of expression: Poland to fine tech giants that censor users

In the mainstream media, Poland has been branded as a country which does not respect the "foundations of democracy". But it is precisely Poland that is now at the forefront of freedom of expression on social media. According to a proposed bill in Poland, social media that censors users will be forced to pay multi-million euro fines.

Published: January 27, 2021, 10:24 am

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    RT reported that Poland’s Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro from the right-wing Conservative Law and Justice, says that Poles whose posts have been censored should charge the social media platform that censored the person. The platform then has 24 hours to respond to the user. The user, in turn, has 48 hours to apply to a court for the censorship to be lifted. The court will then decide the case within a week.

    If the court finds that the user has not written anything that is illegal, it will decide in favor of the user. The social media platform must then lift the censorship. If the platform refuses to comply with the court’s decision, a fine of up to €1,8 million will be imposed by the Court of Freedom of Expression. The whole process will be done digitally, according to Polish Minister of Justice Ziobro.

    The Minister of Justice believes that many users today are victims of “ideological censorship” and that these users should feel that their rights are protected on the internet just as in society as a whole.

    Several European government officials have denounced the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts, including those from Poland. The draft law will make it illegal for giant tech companies to do the same in Poland.

    “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on Facebook. “There can be no consent to censorship.”

    Morawiecki likened the move by tech giants to the communist era. “Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he wrote. Morawiecki called on the EU to introduce similar regulations.

    Sebastian Kaleta, secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, told Polish daily Rzeczpospolita that Facebook’s ban has been hypocritical, politically motivated and “amounts to censorship”. He added: “Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland.”

    Facebook has repeatedly blocked content from various Polish organisations and politicians they do not like. The MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke, aligned with the Konfederacja party, with 780 000 followers, was banned from Facebook for alleged “violations of community standards”. Korwin-Mikke commented that Facebook was being run by “fascists and Bolsheviks”.

    MEP Patryk Jaki of the United Poland party noted on his Facebook account: “Every day there is more news from the US about the mass removal of accounts criticising the left … defending the freedom of speech is again the biggest challenge of conservatives globally.”

    Historically, Poland has been at the forefront of freedom of expression. The Warsaw Confederation passed by the Polish national assembly (Sejm Konwokacyjny), extended religious freedoms and tolerance in the Commonwealth, the first of its kind in Europe, on 28 January 1573.

    In the US, Republican Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has sounded the clarion call against tech giants, acting in collusion with the Democrat majority in the Executive and Legislative branches.

    Tech giants and corporations have moved into hyperdrive, with Facebook and Twitter purging conservatives and anyone who speaks against the official mainstream narrative that the US election had been free and fair.

    Hawley told Sean Hannity from Fox News that it has been an “unbelievable attempt by big business, Big Tech and the left to try to censor all dissent, to try to shut down all opposition to try to silence half of America.

    “And while the Democrats talk about unity in Washington, they don’t want unity. What they want is total control, and these big corporations are right there with them trying to achieve it. And, Sean, we’ve got to stand up and say, we will not bow down to the mob.”

    An insider told the New York Post that Facebook was “an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party”.  He added: “The whole thing is run by super-woke millennials and gen-Xers. This overwhelming majority of people make sure there’s no chance of breaking through the ideological barrier. If you’re left-wing, you can say what you want.”

    In the US, Section 230 protects social media companies from liability for user-generated content. This allows them to monitor, label and even censor the content posted on their site, including posts from former President Trump, without any repercussions.

    Ironically, a tech giant such as Amazon never showed a profit until the CIA announced they had signed a $600 million contract to run all of the CIA’s computer infrastructure on Amazon Cloud Services. Facebook and Twitter had not been profitable until recently either: They only became profitable when their data collection and privacy transgressions became sizeable.

    YouTube was famously unprofitable since it was originally purchased by Google 15 years ago. The operating revenue was so small that it was never listed on Google’s balance sheet. Yet, despite being notoriously unprofitable, millions of dollars kept pouring into the firm.

    All the tech giants were able to operate at huge losses until they could claim total ownership of information gateways. And before they became profitable, they curiously had no political bias. Have users been duped by the Deep State?

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