Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki has vowed to “defend freedom of speech on the internet” and insisted “the owners of social media networks cannot operate above the law” after U.S. President Donald Trump and Parler were purged.
“I was born and raised among people for whom freedom was the most precious of values… because we know what it is like when someone tries to limit it,” said the 52-year-old conservative, who was born in the same year the Soviet communists and puppet regimes in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland itself invaded the wayward satellite state of Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.
“For close to 50 years we lived in a country in which censorship was practised, in which Big Brother told us how we are meant to live and what we are meant to feel, and what we are not allowed to think, say or write,” wrote Morawiecki on his Facebook page, going on to praise the internet as “the most democratic medium in history, a forum on which everyone can have a voice”.
Nevertheless, he warned, the internet’s lack of regulation has, paradoxically, had “negative consequences” for freedom over time: “It became dominated by huge, international corporations, wealthier and more powerful than many nations.”
Twitter has permanently banned the account of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. https://t.co/h5i5pfbBXO
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 8, 2021
“These corporations treat our online activity merely as a source of revenue and a tool to increase their global domination. They have also introduced their own standards of political correctness, and they fight those who oppose them,” wrote Morawiecki.
“We are now increasingly faced with practices we believed were left in the past. The censoring of free speech, once the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now back, but in a new form, run by corporations, who silence those who think differently,” he lamented.
The Polish leader insisted that there can be “No tolerance for state censorship, such as the one Poland faced under communism, or the private type, which we are seeing today.”
“Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy — that is why we must defend it. It is not up to algorithms or the owners of huge corporations to decide what opinions are correct and which aren’t.”
Google has removed social media platform Parler from its Play Store for Android devices, stating the app will remain suspended until it implements “robust” moderation policies that crack down on free speech. https://t.co/hh8TVttlsZ
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 9, 2021
The Polish prime minister promised that his government would “do everything to define the frame of operations of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other similar platforms” with respect to free speech.
“In Poland we will regulate with appropriate national regulation. We will also suggest similar laws be passed in all of the EU,” he added.
“Social media platforms have to serve us, and not the interests of their powerful owners. Everyone has the right to freedom of speech. Poland will defend that right.”
Ministers in Morawiecki’s government have previously explained that the regulations will take the form of an ‘Act for the Freedom to Express One’s Views and Obtain and Disseminate Information on the Internet’, giving social media users a statutory right to appeal bans and content removal to tech giants — with the possibility of further, all-digital, and anonymised appeals to a new Court for the Protection of Freedom of Speech.
The court will be able to order social media platforms to restore banned users or their posts if their words were lawful under the Polish constitution, with multi-million dollar fines for firms which refuse its rulings or fail to address them in a timely fashion.
“The Constitution… guarantees full freedom of expression… Therefore, any manifestations of limiting it must meet with the reaction of the state to enable protection against interference with this freedom,” explained deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta.
“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… This law is a response to what they are trying to impose on us as legal norms, that is, forcing us to censor with political correctness and refrain from expressing one’s opinion,” Kaleta added.
Poland to Pass Law Protecting Online Free Speech Against Big Tech Censorship https://t.co/TUH7XEjOFu
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 26, 2020