Poland’s Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta said the country proposes to impose massive fines on tech giants who censor users or delete posts for ideological reasons.
Any big tech giant banning a user or removing posts for ideological reasons would invite fines of $13.5 million, unless the content is also illegal under Polish law,” the Polish minister said.
An arbitration committee will be set up to oversee disputes, he said.
Kaleta said Poland has spent 45 years under communism which has taught Polish people the value of free speech.
The decision comes after the big tech companies banned former President Donald Trump’s accounts for “inciting” violence at the January 6 demonstration at the US Capitol.
“Freedom of speech is not something that anonymous moderators working for private companies should decide. Instead, that is for the national body; duly elected officials,” Kaleta said.
“It’s very disturbing because if Big Tech sees themselves as an organization empowered enough to ban a sitting president of the U.S., it sends a message to the world—that we can ban anyone, whenever we want,” he added.
In an interview to Fox News, Kaleta said big tech giants have been targeting conservatives, Christianity, and traditional values by banning them or removing posts.
“The big tech deletes content which praises traditional values or praises conservatism under their ‘hate speech policy’ when it has no legal right to do so,” Kaleta said.
Last month, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the introduction of laws to protect freedom of speech on the internet.
On January 13, Morawiecki had posted a lengthy post on Facebook saying that the internet, for now, has been dominated by international corporations that uses people’s online activity 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,” Morawiecki added.
“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.”
“Discussion consists in the exchange of views, not in silencing people. We do not have to agree with what our opponents write, but we cannot forbid anyone from expressing views that do not contravene the law,” he added.
Morawiecki said Poland would adopt suitable national laws to regulate the operations of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other similar platforms.
Even Hungary has taken the fight against social media censorship, with Justice Minister Judit Varga stating that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government will not tolerate intrusions on free speech.
In a Facebook post, Varga raised the prospect of sanctioning social media firms over what she called “systematic abuses” of free speech and indicated that she was going to submit a bill later this year to “regulate the domestic operations of large tech companies.”
She alleged that she herself had also been “shadow-banned” by Facebook, and 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.”
Varga said in her post the matter should be regulated at the European Union level, but said swifter action may be needed. “Due to the systematic abuses, however, we may need to step up sooner,” she said.