Croatian anti-hate law might lead to censorship, some experts fear

Croatian anti-hate law might lead to censorship, some experts fear
Is it possible that  laws destined to regulate hate speech, incitement to violence and fake news online, lead to the limitation of freedom of expression?

Considering the new anti-hate Croatian law, there are experts who say it is, highlighting the "shortcomings and potential pitfalls", that the plan contains, as balkaninsight.com reports.

There are specialists who find Croatia’s present legislation "sufficient when it comes to sanctioning illegal content, but agree that fresh legislation is needed to prevent sharing such content".

Furthermore, they are skeptic about where such new laws could lead society as regards to (self-) censorship and limited freedom of thought, speech, expression.

Anti-hate Laws - Greetings from Germany and Venezuela

Their worries are not baseless as, two completely different countries, politically, socially and geographically, Germany and Venezuela, were faced with similar social questions in 2017, when anti-hate draft laws were discussed being passed and implemented.

On November 8, 2017, "Venezuela's constituent assembly (...) unanimously passed a law that mandates punishment including a prison sentence of up to 20 years for anyone who instigates hate or violence on the radio, television or via social media. The new law, the Anti-Hate Law for Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence, states that public and private media are "obligated to broadcast messages aimed at promoting peace, tolerance, equality and respect", the Committee to Protect Journalists (cjp.org) reported on their site.

It was added that, "Under the law, which was originally introduced during a wave of nationwide anti-government protests earlier this summer, the government can revoke licenses or block web pages of any outlet that shares messages the government views as promoting hate or intolerance. Television and radio stations will now be required to broadcast at least 30 minutes of programming each week that promotes "peace and tolerance" or face fines of up to four percent of their revenue. Social media users and administrators could be fined for failing to take down 'hate' messages within six hours".

One could say that, "We are in Europe. Who cares what happens to far-away Venezuela?". The answer would be, "Check this one out: the same goes for totally European Germany, too!".

Happy New Year with NetzDG!

How is it possible when we are living in the "social media era" to aim at putting bans and aiming at taking down illicit material, that someone is, supposedly, free to post, send and share thanks to our social-media culture?

Back in May, 2017, Facebook and the German government got involved in a whirlwind of positions, policies and tasks, connected with the then anti-hate speech (controversial) draft law that was discussed in the Bundestag.

Through a rare direct statement, as DW had written, Facebook said, "The legislative state cannot pass on its own shortcomings and responsibilities to private companies. Preventing and combating hate speech and fake news is a public task that the state cannot avoid."

Months later and into the beginning of the new year, the German (new) online hate speech law has come into effect. However, "debates over the right to free speech are raging on social media", DW reports only to add, "But can deleting hateful speech online also delete any opportunity to confront it".../IBNA

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