As UK lawmakers consider a 2021 ‘Online Safety Bill,’ which would allow fines of up to £18 million (US$24 million) against online platforms that ‘fail to protect users or remove harmful content,” (including ‘disinformation and cyberbullying‘) things are a little different in Poland, where sticks and stones still have an advantage over words and political opinions.
In a new bill which takes censorship decisions out of the hands of ideological activists at leftist tech giants, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced a legal initiative on Thursday which enables individuals to file complaints against social media companies who remove or censor their posts if they don’t break Polish law, according to Poland In.
Under its provisions, social media services will not be allowed to remove content or block accounts if the content on them does not break Polish law. In the event of removal or blockage, a complaint can be sent to the platform, which will have 24 hours to consider it. Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the court for the return of access. The court will consider complaints within seven days of receipt and the entire process is to be electronic. –Poland In
That said, while Poland’s constitutional court recognizes that free expression as being “one of the most important values of a democratic state,” they do have some strict defamation laws – while people who bring lawsuits against others risk fines and imprisonment for false accusations.
“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,” said Ziobro, adding “We realise that it is not an easy topic, we realise that on the internet there should also be a sphere of guarantees for everybody who feels slandered, a sphere of limitation of various content which may carry with it a negative impact on the sphere of other people’s freedom.”
“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.”
If the court rules in favor of the user and the internet service refuses to obey the ruling, they could be fined up to PLN 8 million (US$2.2 million) from the Office of Electronic Communications.