New Social Media Laws in Europe and Czech Society’s Reaction
Shazia Anwer Cheema
The European Union drafted the Digital Services Act (DSA) which is considered a document contrary to the fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by democratic standards, as this law will empower social media operators to choose content whether they deem permitted or not through advice and action mechanisms.
The DSA is a legislative proposal from the European Commission submitted to the European Parliament and the European Council on December 15, 2020. European Digital Rights is concerned that the DSA’s strong removal requirements for illegal content may create a deterrent effect by encouraging companies to remove all content flagged as illegal, whether it is actually illegal or not.
Europe is going through a new period where France has introduced a law to force social network operators to remove hateful content reported by users within 24 hours. However, the French Constitutional Council annulled most of the law’s provisions a month later, deemed unconstitutional, for violating freedom of expression.
Renowned European writer David Hutt said Germany’s Network Enforcement Law requires social media to remove content that violates hate and libel. What is defamatory? This would of course be decided by the government. Such laws can blur the right to freedom of speech and expression in Europe.
When EU countries consider imposing indirect bans on the right of expression, the Czech Republic is an exception where the debate is opposed as the Czechs consider monitoring social media to be an act that violates the Charter. fundamental rights of the EU and an act jeopardizing the future of democracy. .
We have to remember that the global monitoring agency vpnMentor said in 2017 that the Czech Republic has one of the lowest internet censorship rates in the world. This fact creates the desire to understand why Czechs respect the right of expression so much and why they are interested in knowing and respecting the “opposite”.
The independence of the Czech Republic was not the result of the Velvet Revolution alone, the rather resilient Czechs had fought for their identity and freedom for many centuries and used theater and literature as two major tools to maintain their language and culture alive, and they know that freedom of speech is the most important gift enjoyed under independence and democracy. The Czechs respect democracy because they fought against subjugation for centuries, first under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then under the former USSR. Czechs love democracy and the right to freedom of expression and believe that democracy is not achievable without freedom of expression.
If anyone reads the history of Czech theater and culture, it can be understood that freedom of expression is very important for every citizen of the Czech Republic. Even under the extreme subjugation of Austro-Hungarian and Soviet rule, the Czechs have not ceased to retaliate for expressing their dissatisfaction with foreign rules and have used the theater of absurdity, mimes and other techniques to s ‘Express.
On the night of August 21-22, 1968, the former USSR invaded Czechoslovakia when 200,000 soldiers and 2,000 tanks entered the country and the Czechoslovak forces were confined to their barracks, which were surrounded until then. that the threat of a counterattack has passed. In April 1969, the USSR entered a phase of “normalization” which was in effect a reversal of all reforms and freedom of the press and a regression for Czech land until the Soviet invasion of 1948.
However, the resistance movement is not dead and former Prague students, intellectuals and theater practitioners who were able to escape outside the country have continued to advocate for human rights, freedom of speech. Since the Czech theater matured under subjugation but never bowed to the invaders, it therefore found unique ways of surviving the post-Prague spring repression and for the next two decades it functioned in the provisional spaces of cultural centers, studios, gymnasiums, bars. , union halls, art galleries and salons. Strategies have been designed and implemented to bring freedom back into the theater and into society.
A strong sense of justice and ethics intensified the mutual engagement of theaters and audiences, paving the way for the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the installation of a playwright as the first President of the Republic. independent Czech. The underlying urge to explore the particular realities of Czech character and Czech history was the most consistently present element in all of these pieces. These realities included memories of repeated defeats, humiliations, or simply wrong choices, all of which led to life in various forms of subjugation, including the loss of the First Republic in Munich, in 1938, and the years of Nazi occupation; the Communist takeover of the post-war Republic, 1948, and the Stalinist era that followed; Soviet intervention and the suppression of socialism with a human face in 1968 and the dark era that followed.
It can be said that the Czech theater remained in survival mode during a slow revival of the theater by performing these Soviet plays which criticized the problems of their society, in fact paving the way for the Czechs themselves to initiate temporary changes in their acting. safely. directories. In the 1980s, the technique of “irregular” dramaturgy was chosen by theater practitioners as a tactical gesture to create difficulties for the authorities to monitor their vague and informal communication with the audience has remained an important feature of the performance. whether this communication is verbalized or not. Music has become an important component of theater, often performed by the actors themselves, as has mime and dance, or pure physical play among performers or with the audience.
The Czechs have given free speech a very high price, which is why they hate words like “Censor” or “Forbid”.
There is a popular proverb in the Czech language that says:
Critical opinions and opposing thoughts are healthy approaches for society because the absence of criticism is like a situation where the cat is not at home, the mice are partying.
Note: Writer Shazia Cheema is an analyst who writes for national and international media. She heads the DND think tank. She did her Masters in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University in Denmark and holds a PhD. Researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh E-mail: [email protected]