New legislation introduced in Poland would fine Big Tech companies up to $13.5 million if they illegally censored Polish citizens.
The law, introduced by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), would focus on protection their citizens from political over-reach by Big Tech organisations, preventing any users in the country from having their accounts or posts blocked and removed if the motive for doing so was political.
A “Free Speech Council” would be set up by the government, where users who feel they were unfairly censored by Big Tech companies could appeal, and if the council found that the posts in question had not broken any Polish law, then the company would be subject to a fine of 50 million zlotys, equivalent to $13.5 million.
Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s Justice Minister, told a news conference in January that the government would “place emphasis on the sphere of freedom,” and that Big Tech companies would no longer be able to block “individual statements or… [delete] user accounts, if they do not agree with them.”
Speaking to Fox News last month, Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister, Sebastian Kaleta, said that after Big Tech had repeatedly censored conservatives and Christian values, that enough was finally enough:
We see that when Big Tech decides to remove content for political purposes, it’s mostly content which praises traditional values or praises conservatism and it is deleted under their ‘hate speech policy’ when it has no legal right to do so… Freedom of speech is not something that anonymous moderators working for private companies should decide. Instead, that is for the national body… All industries, car, phones, finance were unregulated till they grew too large. The same should happen with Big Tech.
Kaleta said it was very “disturbing” that Big Tech companies saw themselves as “empowered enough to ban” President Trump when he was still in office, saying that it sent a message to the world that they could ban anyone whenever they wanted. “Poland spent 45 years under communism,” he added. “It taught us the value of free speech.”