Social media companies that censor users or remove posts for ideological reasons could soon face fines in Poland in a world-first attempt to curb the power of Big Tech through legislation.
Speaking to Fox News, the architect of the law, Deputy Polish Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta, said social media companies have for too long been targeting conservatives, Christianity, and traditional values by banning them and removing posts and the Polish government is saying “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,” he said, “and it is deleted under their ‘hate speech policy’ when it has no legal right to do so.”
Under the new legislation, any platform that bans a user would face fines of $13.5 million unless the content is also illegal under Polish law. An arbitration committee would be set up to oversee disputes.
Tech companies had reached a point where they were deciding what was legal and what was not — but that was not their role, Kaleta says.
“Freedom of speech is not something that anonymous moderators working for private companies should decide,” he said. “Instead, that is for the national body; duly elected officials and all industries, car, phones, finance — were unregulated till they grew too large — the same should happen with Big Tech.”
He added that the removal of former U.S. President Donald Trump from social media platforms was just another example of Big Tech overreach and set a dangerous precedent.
“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.
Poland spent 45 years under communism, and Kaleta says that experience has taught it the value of free speech and that when the country sees these disturbing new trends toward censorship, the red light goes on.
Meanwhile, in India, social media is also being curbed by the government but in a very different way: Twitter has caved to the demands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and removed 500 accounts that were being critical of his leadership during recent protests. Twitter relented after its employees in India were threatened with arrest.