Due to the recent refugee crisis, internet hate speech has been on the increase in Poland, bringing with it more questions about why there are no laws or regulations enabling effective pursuit of people who publicly post derogatory and hateful comments.There is more and more ‘hate’ in the network. Portal after portal decide to block the possibility of commenting on articles about refugees. At least one Polish ex-pat Facebook group had even banned posting of refugee news topics and discussion entirely, due to the deluge of hateful comments they had suffered from.
Many people by insulting others relieve their frustrations. It seems to them that everything is allowed. In the internet they are anonymous, and if so, go unpunished – says Izabella Kielczyk, psychologist.
Fighting hatred in the internet is like “fighting with windmills”, despite the fact that two years ago the Supreme Administrative Court decided that all individuals and companies can require the disclosure of personal data of authors of offensive comments on internet forums. There is no legal fast track, which would help to determine the hater’s name. And without that knowledge, filing a lawsuit or a personal indictment is impossible.
Personal details can be determined in two ways: with the help of the police and a prosecutor’s office or by the General Inspector for Personal Data Protection (GIODO). Investigators can determine the address and the name of a hater only if they are pursued in criminal proceedings (eg. for defamation).
Once, however, the data is needed for a civil claim, they refuse to help. In turn, the General Inspector may order a portal to reveal the IP number of the hater’s computer, but the portal may not necessarily immediately obey. They might appeal from the decision, then make a complaint to an administrative court. As a result, the IP number might be obtained after several years. And then the personal data still has to be determined based on the IP, which can be as time consuming.
According to experts, the process discourages the fight against haters. If it were possible to file a so called blind lawsuit, the insulted person would be able to go to court, and the court would carry out an investigation to see if the charges are founded. Only then the personal details of the accused would be required.
Whether insulting comments get removed from the internet or not should not depend on private companies or individuals’ claims, but on law regulations.
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