Poland Urges U.S. to Regulate Big Tech, ‘Every Citizen Must Be Protected’ from Censorship
Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister has called on the U.S. to protect “every citizen” from Big Tech censorship on social media, as his own country prepares new laws enforcing free speech standards online.
Polish lawmaker Sebastian Kaleta said it was “disturbing” that “Christian or patriotic content” was increasingly being branded as “hate speech” by the Big Tech firms which dominate social media, and that the public discourse should not be controlled by “anonymous moderators”.
Mr Kaleta explained that while other European countries, such as Emmanuel Macron’s France and Angela Merkel’s Germany, are already regulating Big Tech in a way that allows them to “force social media to delete some content”, Poland is approaching the online public square from the opposite direction, with legislation “to prevent legal content from being censored”.
The minister told American broadcaster Glenn Beck that “Many publishers, many politicians right now are interested in our concept, because we saw that freedom of speech is in danger and we want to protect it,” referencing the mass banning of former U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration and Poland’s own dark history of censorship under Communism.
While many conservatives say they accept the right of tech giants to ban, shadowban, and restrict or remove the content of social media users, if reluctantly, because they are “private companies”, Mr Kaleta compared them to, among other things, the telephone networks.
These also started out as private enterprises, he argued in his podcast interview, but evolved into regulated public utilities with democratically accountable oversight as their use became ubiquitous — and it would not be considered acceptable to ban people from using telephones for expressing the “wrong” opinions while using them.
“There are many dangers in Big Tech companies which we should face,” he said, expressing concern at the creation of “monopolies” from which “every citizen must be protected; the rights of every one of us should be protected… to preserve democracy itself.”
Mr Kaleta had previously elaborated on these points in an article for Newsweek, recalling how “Poland suffered under Soviet-imposed Communism for 45 years and endured decades of censorship” and was therefore “particularly sensitive to any attempts to curtail freedom of speech.”