Poland moves to block Big Tech from censoring accounts

The Polish government has drafted legislation to prohibit Big Tech from censoring social media accounts.

The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) will make it illegal for international tech companies to remove accounts which do not break national law.

“Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” wrote prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Facebook.

Given Poland’s recent history of being under both fascist and communist rule in the 20th century, Morawiecki alluded to the threat of authoritarianism returning through the actions of Big Tech.

“Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” he added.

There can be no consent to censorship.

The secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of Justice, Sebastian Kaleta, mentioned that the draft legislation would prohibit social media giants from censoring or removing content if it was not violation of Poland’s laws.

“Removing lawful content would directly violate the law, and this will have to be respected by the platforms that operate in Poland,” Kaleta told Rzeczpospolita.

Panoptykon, a Polish NGO on digital rights, also agreed with the government’s stance, saying that the draft legislation is “quite in line with what civil society has been fighting for, against arbitrary censorship online”, and mentioned that national laws were more suitable for arbitrating online content than tech companies.

This comes in the aftermath of the deactivation of Donald Trump’s social media accounts and, while certain mainstream outlets allege that Poland’s stance is due to their alignment with the former US president on many issues, this sentiment was shared by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” Merkel’s spokesman said after Trump’s social media ban.

“Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.”

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