Poland’s Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, announced an Online Freedom of Speech Bill. The aim of the bill is to protect the rights of the internet users by not allowing online platforms to arbitrarily remove posts. Under the bill’s provisions, social media services will not be allowed to remove content or block accounts if the content on them does not break Polish law. Social media companies will be fined huge sums for every post they take down that doesn’t break Polish law.
In the event of removal or blockage, a user can file a complaint with the platform, which will have 24 hours to consider it. Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the specially created court, for the return of access. The court will consider complaints within seven days. If a special court rules in favour of the plaintiff and the internet service does not comply with the ruling, the court can subject the internet service to a fine of up to PLN 8 million (EUR 1.8 million) imposed by the Office of Electronic Communications.
This is the first time that social media companies will be fined for arbitrarily taking down content of their websites. More European countries might decide to follow in Poland’s footsteps in order to restore freedom of speech on the internet.
As of now, in some European countries, like France and Germany, social media companies are fined if they do not remove content which is arbitrarily deemed as “hate speech” or “breaking community standards.”