Many Internet users face the problem of censorship in social media. This was the focus of the debate organised by the Ordo Iuris Institute as part of the Warsaw conference of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe. Lawyers and journalists from Poland and abroad took part in the event.
During the meeting, insights into censorship on the Internet were provided by Jolanta Hajdasz, PhD (Association of Polish Journalists), Paweł Lisicki ("Do Rzeczy”, wSensie.tv), Cezary Krysztopa ("Tygodnik Solidarność"), Krzysztof Łuksza (wRealu24.pl), Łukasz Karpiel (PCh24.pl), and Varro Vooglaid, an Estonian lawyer and columnist. It was noted that modern censorship in social media is ever more frequently assuming an economic dimension. Apart from merely blocking or removing content, the administrators of social platforms go as far as to restrict monetisation, i.e. they prevent the possibility of earning money on content that arguably "does not meet the standards".
The speakers also emphasised that almost solely conservative content is censored. While censoring content, platform administrators often use the imprecise term of "hate speech." In many cases, Internet users do not receive any feedback about the reasons for removing the materials they posted.
The debate was opened by attorney Jerzy Kwaśniewski.
"Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are one of the fundamental freedoms of democratic societies. They guarantee a proper process legitimising the system, legitimising public authority and its exercise," underlined the President of Ordo Iuris.
The mechanism of censorship employed by the owners of Facebook and YouTube was described by Tymoteusz Zych, PhD, Vice-President of the Ordo Iuris Institute. He also made a case for introducing appropriate changes into legal regulations in order to guarantee the freedom of speech in social media.
"Access to information is determined by social media. This sphere undoubtedly needs legal regulations," noted Zych.
Attorney Tomasz Piotr Chudzinski, in turn, discussed current legal tools that may be used in response to the unlawful removal of content posted in social media.
"In Poland, the right to freely express one's views is considered a personal right. If social media use censorship, the personal right of the user who posted specific content is violated," he stated.
The debate was part of the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting - an annual conference on human rights and democracy, the largest in its kind in Europe. The representatives of Ordo Iuris participate in the conference every year
In 1916, an American feminist, Margaret Sanger, opened the first clinic in the United States of America, where women were advised on the use of contraceptives. It was also a place where dangerous procedures were performed to kill unborn children. Sanger was accused of using illegal and deadly practices, convicted and sentenced to 30 days in prison. However, it did not discourage her from continuing her activities.
The Ordo Iuris Institute intervenes as an amicus curiae in leading cases heard by the European Tribunal of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Their resolution may have a significant influence on the legal systems of the member states of the Council of Europe, including Poland.
Last month the United Nations Committee against Torture held a periodic review of implementation of the Convention against Torture by Poland.