Twitter CEO Elon Musk pushed back against Ireland’s forthcoming hate speech laws, calling it a “massive attack against freedom of speech.”
The new proposed legislation will grant Irish authorities the to criminally convict people for “hate speech” offenses, including possessing material that could “incite” hatred in others if disseminated.
According to Catholic Herald, The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill, 2022 is designed to replace the 1989 Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, a law widely considered to have achieved the necessary balance of protecting free speech while outlawing overt incitement toward violence in society.
The outlet adds:
A press release from the Department of Justice, however, informs that the 1989 law was ineffective because it only secured 50 convictions over 30 years, implying, somewhat worryingly, that the objective of the law is to create more criminals and that the value and efficacy of law is assessed based on this quantitative metric.
The proposed law also states the government can simply presume that a person possessing such “hate” material intends to distribute if deemed reasonable to do so.
The proposed law has also raised fears that the Irish government is attempting to usher in “thought crimes.”
But despite widespread criticism, the Irish Government has continued to push through the bill.
Elon Musk joined the debate, denouncing the Irish “hate speech” legislation as an attack on free expression.
“This is a massive attack against freedom of speech,” Musk wrote on Saturday.
Musk’s remarks will likely antagonize the Irish political elite.
Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, took shots at Musk after he took over Twitter, calling it a “form of dictatorship.”
But Musk’s opinions will likely hold weight thanks to its massive overreliance on U.S. multinationals within the tech and pharmaceutical sectors.
Last month, Musk also faced trouble from German regulators who launched a procedure to fine Twitter for its alleged failure to censor enough “hate speech.”
As The Daily Fetched reported:
Berlin’s Federal Office of Justice (BfJ) announced it had launched legal action against Twitter under the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) – a 2018 law aimed at combatting so-called hate speech.
The German regulator accused Twitter of “systemic failure” to follow its legal obligation to remove flagged content deemed illegal “hate speech.”
Social media companies can be fined up to €50 million under the legislation.
“Twitter is obliged to provide an effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints from users about illegal content,” the Federal Office of Justice wrote.
“Among other things, it must immediately take note of reported content, check whether it is illegal within the meaning of the NetzDG, and illegal content, in compliance with the legal deadline of regularly seven days or 24 hours in case of obvious illegality, delete or block access to it,” it added.
“The Internet is not a law-free space,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said.
“Platforms must not simply accept it if their services are misused to distribute criminal content.”