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Czech Republic Commentary

Web censorship is growing in Czechia, but the government is doing little to stop it

Alliance for the Family announced that it had been censored on Facebook

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Daniel Kaiser

The Alliance for the Family organization, which is well-regarded in Czechia, seems to be the latest victim of internet censorship in the country. On Twitter, the Alliance announced that it had been censored on Facebook and there are concerns it could presage a complete ban. 

“According to Facebook, the Alliance for the Family violates community standards. We keep saying that a child needs a dad and a mom. But we are not permitted to say such things in this new, beautiful, and rainbow society,” the organization wrote, describing the censorship as a “funeral”.

While the Alliance for the Family has not been completely banned,  the organization has been warned several times recently, and reports that when working with the organization’s Facebook profile, administrators are restricted and unable to take certain steps (such as inviting people who liked some of the posts to become fans of the site), after which a vague announcement of community policy violations pops up. If past cases are any guide, it is often the case that a ban follows after Facebook has taken such steps.

The Alliance for the Family is not alone in being targeted. Even other figures of “conservative” Facebook or Twitter, such as game developer Daniel Vávra, indicate that Facebook’s actions seem to indicate a ban is not far off. In such a situation, those who are targeted are naturally happy for every Czech politician who speaks out against censorship on the Internet.

The former chairman of the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-ČSL), Marek Výborný, did so on his Twitter account, writing,”Has the world gone mad?” and “It is not possible to be censored in this way to defend a stable family.”

However, because Václav Havel once taught us that freedom is indivisible, we must remind the Christian Democratic politician that censorship on social networks, this “reduction in content distribution”, is not applied only to topics and groups close to him personally but also to the critique of European integration, green ideology and, of course, the very sensitive proponents of such ideologies.

What is Czechia doing about censorship?

The censorship trend is erupting on the Czech web, which had previously more or less avoided cancel culture

For more than two years, there has been a bill in the Chamber of Deputies that would make the deletion of non-criminal posts a criminal offense that could be prosecuted with a fine, in extreme cases, even imprisonment. At the end of April this year, MPs adopted the proposal for a second reading, but it is generally assumed that in the end it will not be adopted. The Christian Democratic Party has done nothing for the success of this model.

In September last year, a petition from the Society for the Defense of Freedom of Speech (SOSP) known as Stop Censorship, was circulated. In addition to the call for the establishment of a parliamentary commission which should pass legislation against Internet censorship, there is also a demand for companies from Silicon Valley to establish some liaison officers in the Czech Republic to whom victims of censorship can turn.

The Alliance for the Family is today in a situation where it can only turn to some kind of algorithm, an anonymous organization, and get the most prefabricated answer any question, a phenomenon countless individuals and organizations have faced when their accounts were censored or banned.

Yesterday, the SOSP retweeted the post of Výborný with a remark: “None of the Christian Democratic legislators has yet signed our petition, and we only received an official, very vague reaction from the party after many months of silence. However, it is never too late.”

The lack of interest also applies to the rest of the center-right parties, especially the Civic Democrats, except for some individual politicians.

It is certain that if the majority in the next House has even one vote, the next government will be formed by the Spolu coalition, where, as can be seen, the fight against internet censorship has only partial support from the Pirate Party. While Pirates talk about some European solution to the problem, however, in general, censorship on social networks does not interest them.

The next Czech government will not do anything serious in this regard. It will not be inspired by Poland, for example, where a conservative government has created a special court against modern censorship. Our moderate conservatives are fighting against themselves, because at the current pace of the narrowing of the corridor of opinion, even things with which they are still campaigning for this year will be deleted from Facebook before the next elections.

Title image: In this April 14, 2020, file photo, the thumbs up Like logo is shown on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook’s oversight board, which on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, upheld the company’s ban of former President Donald Trump, also had some harsh words for its corporate sponsor: Facebook. But critics aren’t convinced this decision is a triumph of accountability, and say its actions may actually distract from more fundamental issues that Facebook seems less interested in talking about. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)