Victory for Google in Polish court after labeling Catholic content as ‘hate speech’

Google has been taken to court in Poland for free speech violations (EPA-EFE/ALEX PLAVEVSKI)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

A district court in Warsaw has rejected a lawsuit brought by Paweł Lisicki, the editor of weekly Do Rzeczy, against Google for removing content based on the grounds of “hate speech,” marking a victory for the tech giant on Polish territory.

The content in question related to two editions of a Catholic program on Youtube channel about the Catholic Church’s teaching on the ideology of the LGBT movement

Google never produced any definition of “hate speech” or a basis to remove content based on this label, argued Ordo Iuris, an NGO campaigning for the preservation of family values and freedom of speech. The NGO represented Paweł Lisicki and prepared his case against Google, arguing that Lisicki’s reputation had been put into doubt by Google’s actions as well as his right to free speech. They demanded that the two episodes of the program be reinstated and that they should not be referred to as “hate speech.”

The court ruled in favor of Google and stated that the programs promoted “hate speech.” However, the court did not define what the term “hate speech” actually meant. It just stated the views conveyed in the programs were “highly damaging.” However, the views presented also happened to be those of the Catholic Church. 

Responding to the verdict, Ordo Iuris said that it was an example of how judges impose their own values over legal norms and that once again the courts had offered protection from criticism to LGBT ideology. In this manner, the courts were limiting the right of free speech and the rights of individuals to practice their religion. 

When the two video clips were censored in 2019, Lisicki said that the actions of Google constituted a form of preventative censorship designed to gag critics of LGBT ideology and exclude Catholic views from public debate. He also called blocking current affairs programs by social media an abuse of power. 

Lisicki further argued that at this moment in time, an undefined group of self-appointed people were in place to decide the meaning of hate speech without ever actually defining it. There used to be an understanding that only content that actually called for the use of physical force was prohibited from being published. Now, all material critical of the liberal mainstream is under threat of being removed, which he says is a clear violation of free speech. 

It is worth noting that the Polish government once floated the idea of a social media anti-censorship law designed to rein in Big Tech’s power, with proposed fines reaching as high as €1 million. However, such proposals have languished for years and there appears to be no current plan in place to implement such a law.

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