Poland drafts internet freedom of speech bill

The Justice Ministry presented its draft law on Friday which aims to ensure that freedom of speech is not breached on social media.

The bill seeks to set up a Freedom of Speech Council, a five member body elected by a three-fifths majority of the lower house of parliament. They would be installed for a six-year term, top ministry officials announced at a press conference on Friday.

Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister, said that the internet is a forum for numerous disputes nowadays, therefore Polish citizens should be ensured "the fundamental rights" stated in the country's constitution. “This calls for a legal framework that would force ‘global players’ to respect the law”, he emphasised.

"Today there are no such effective instruments, currently social media firms themselves decide which content can be censored or removed," Mr Ziobro concluded.

The bill will be sent to the government for analysis and will also undergo broader consultation, said Sebastian Kaleta, a deputy justice minister. "The Freedom of Speech Council will review complaints from internet users about content that has been removed or restricted by social media," he said, adding that the Council will have seven days to process the complaint.

"Our work undertaken a year ago has led to the fact that today Poland is able to pass a law that will protect Poles against excessive interference in the content posted on social media. It should not be a decision of an anonymous moderator whether a given content violates or does not violate Polish law. These decisions cannot be made abroad, they should be adjudicated by Polish authorities and this legislative proposal guarantees it”, Mr Kaleta concluded.