Poland's government has proposed a new law to stop social media platforms from deleting content or banning any users who are not breaking Polish laws.
While leftist governments in Western nations seek to fine social media giants Facebook and Twitter for failing to remove so-called “hate speech,” Poland is taking a refreshingly different approach: fining the Jewish- and leftist-dominated tech giants millions every time they censor a citizen who has broken no laws.
The proposed bill would see social networks fined up to 50 million zloty (£9.8m, $13.4m) for failing to restore deleted posts or accounts.
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (pictured above) announced the “freedom of speech protection” bill in January.
The law would also establish a “freedom of speech council.”
The council would be able to order social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to restore deleted content, or unblock a user’s account following a review, Mr Ziobro said.
Social media users in Poland who had been blocked or had content deleted would be able to complain directly to the platform, which would have to respond within 24 hours.
If a social media company refused to comply with an order, the council would be able to issue a fine of between 50,000 and 50 million zloty.
Mr Ziobro leads a right-wing Catholic junior coalition partner in the Polish government. His party claims that traditional Roman Catholic values are under threat from LGBT rights.
He said large Internet corporations were increasingly limiting freedom of speech.
“Often, the victims of 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,'” Mr Ziobro said recently.
Under the proposed bill, members of the free speech council would be appointed for six-year terms by a three-fifths majority vote in parliament, in an attempt to safeguard pluralism, Mr Ziobro said. They would be experts, not politicians.
Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that protecting freedom of speech on the Internet is a priority for him and has warned against “political correctness.”
“Censorship is not, and cannot be, accepted,” he wrote on Facebook.
Recently, the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper quoted an anonymous government source who said Mr Morawiecki was going to lobby the EU to regulate the issue, because domestic regulations would be ineffective without EU-wide backing.
According to Sebastian Kaleta, a deputy justice minister, the measures could come into effect by next January.
Source: BBC News and National Vanguard correspondents