Hungary: Investigation into social media censorship in Europe

Creation of 'legal environment' to ensure the transparency of social media service providers – both on EU and national level

Wednesday 14 August - Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga has announced that she will be starting an investigation into censorship of political views on social media in Hungary and across Europe.

The Hungarian minister made her announcement on social media platform Facebook over the weekend, saying she would be creating a 'working group' within the ministry to 'investigate the possibilities for a legal environment to ensure the transparency of social media service providers – both on EU and national level.'

'Originally their job would not be to influence societal processes and elections by censoring comments on an ideological basis, however, if they had done it once they shall accept the necessity of the regulation and follow the rules of democracy,' she added.

The announcement comes only a month after Emmanuel Macron’s government announced it would be taking the opposite view and would look to force search engines and social media networks to censor 'hate speech' in France.

The measure, which was passed in early July, would see large fines for internet companies who do not remove offending material within a 24-hour period.

The European Union has also pushed for censorship of 'hate speech' on social media in recent years, including proposing a similar law to the French legislation in September of last year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has also demanded social media companies remove 'hate speech' and introduced fines of up to 50 million euros for companies which violate the policy.

Social media censorship has been a major issue in the United States with President Donald J. Trump looking to use various agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to potentially regulate online censorship through an executive order.

A leaked draft of the executive order, entitled 'Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,' would allow the FCC to change how social media companies are treated under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which allows tech companies to censor lewd or questionable content.

Editor's comment - This announcement is very welcome, as social media companies have had far too much power for far too long when it comes to censorship, leading to an extremely chilling effect on free speech.

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