Poland prepares draft law to make social media censorship illegal

The Poland Ministry of Justice on Thursday announced the introduction of the “freedom of speech protection” bill to stop social media platforms from deleting content posted by Polish users or blocking the users if they do not break any Polish laws.

The Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro said:

Today, social networking sites themselves decide about deleting entries and even blocking user accounts. There is no effective possibility of appealing against such a decision, even if the user proves that he did not break any law and the operation of the website violates the freedom of expression. Social media users need to feel that their rights are protected. Poland should have regulations protecting against abuses of large internet corporations… (who) restrict this freedom.

The draft provides for the establishment of the “Freedom of Speech Council” which will be responsible for protecting the constitutional right to freedom of expression on social media. The Council will be headed by five members with specific expertise in law and media; the lower house of the Parliament of Poland (the Sejm) will appoint the members for a six-year term with a three-fifths majority vote.

If any social media platform blocks a user or deletes their post, even though it does not violate any Polish law, the user can submit a complaint directly to the social media platform and is entitled to receive a response to the complaint within 48 hours. If the users are unhappy with the response given by the social media platform, they can make an appeal before the Council which will consider the appeal within seven days. The Council’s decision may further be appealed before a court.

If any social media platform fails to comply with the order given by the Council or the court, the Council may impose an administrative penalty of PNL 50 thousand, up to 50 million (approximately $13.4 million). In order to decrease costs and ensure a speedy disposal, the proceedings will be held in electronic form.