Poland’s New Bill Slaps $2.2 Million Fines For Social Media Companies Censoring Lawful Posts

Most Americans believe social media companies censor political viewpoints

A new Polish bill slaps a total of $2.2 million fines for social media companies that will censor posts on legal speech.

The new bill will enable an individual to file a complaint against social media companies that will censor their posts that do not go against Polish law, Zero Hedge reported.

With the new bill, a person can file the complaint to the social media company and the latter will be given 24 hours to address the issue. After 48 hours, the person can then file a court petition to get access to their post or their accounts. The court will then consider the case in a week with a maximum processing of seven days. The entire process will be done electronically.

Zbigniew Ziobro, Polish Justice Minister, announced the bill on Thursday and said that freedom of expression is "one of the most important values of a democratic state."

According to Poland In, the freedom of speech bill does not excuse hate speech and even defamation as Poland has strict laws on both and considers the act of defaming someone a serious crime.

Ziobro explained, "Often, the victims of tendencies for 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 from the point of view of communities.

Ziobro added, "...We would like to propose such tools that will enable both one side and the other to call for the decision of a body that will be able to adjudicate whether content appearing on such and such a social media account really violates personal rights, whether it can be eliminated, or whether there is censorship."

The justice minister also addressed how the issue of censorship on social media can be a sensitive topic, but that it may also bring a negative impact on people's freedom, especially one that involves freedom of speech.

"We realise that it is not an easy topic, we realise that on the internet there should also be a sphere of guarantees for everybody who feels slandered, a sphere of limitation of various content which may carry with it a negative impact on the sphere of other people's freedom."

Once the Polish court rules out that there is indeed censorship of one's post, Poland's Office of Electronic Communications can fine the social media company a total of 8 million PLN or an equivalent of US$2.2 million - if they refuse to comply with the court ruling for some reason.

At the same time, lawmakers in the United Kingdom are also working to consider a 2021 Online Safety Bill similar to Poland's new censorship bill.

Under the bill pushed for in UK, social media platforms that will fail to protect its users from harmful or damaging content can be fined up to £18 million or US$24 million, with the bill citing cyber bullying and disinformation as harmful social media content.