Czech Republic: Both sides appeal verdict over racist discussion posts
News server Romea.cz was the first to report several days ago on the groundbreaking verdict handed down by the Municipal Court in Prague sentencing the publisher of the Parlamentní listy online tabloid, the OUR MEDIA company, to payment of a fine of CZK 150 000 (EUR 5 447) for failing to remove racist content posted to its online discussion board beneath two articles. Jan Holoubek, chair of the board of OUR MEDIA, has confirmed to news server Romea.cz that OUR MEDIA has now appealed.
When asked to comment on the lawsuit itself, Holoubek referred us to the statement published by Parlamentní listy on the case at the end of January. In that article, media analyst Petr Žantovský argues that discussions on the Internet should not be given "undue significance" because those involved in them are people "who are lacking something in life".
Žantovský also argues that restricting online discussions would be an attack on the freedom of those discussing and on the freedom of the publisher of the media outlet. The development of this case is even more interesting because the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is expected to rule soon on the issue of who is liable for the content of such discussions on the Internet.
The case in Strasbourg concerns Estonian Government action taken in the matter of an entrepreneur who felt insulted by discussion posts beneath an online article and sued the publisher. According to several experts, the Grand Chamber judgment from Strasbourg could completely change current practice with respect to online discussions.
Publishers could become liable should insults even turn up in online discussions, not "just" for failing to remove them after being asked to do so. In order to avoid criminal prosecution, they would either have to close their online discussion boards altogether or hire editors to read all posts prior to their publication.
For big online news servers where thousands of posts are made daily, the cost of editing them prior to publication could put them out of business. According to Jaroslav Suchý, the plaintiff in the Czech case against Parlamentní listy, such a decision by Strasbourg would be a step in the right direction.
"Naturally I am following the case in Strasbourg and its history," Suchý told news server Romea.cz. "The [initial] judgment in that case, which would be binding for the Czech Republic as well, clearly demonstrated that publishers should avoid publishing anti-Semitic, insulting, racist statements because they do not belong in such discussions. They should prevent their being published on their websites at all."
Suchý has also appealed the recent verdict in his own case. He insists he should be awarded damages in the amount of CZK 200 000 (EUR 7 263).
In its statement on the recent verdict, Parlamentní listy claimed Suchý sought CZK 5 million (EUR 181 590) in his suit and was awarded only CZK 150 000. That claim, however, is misleading.
In a previous version of this lawsuit, Suchý sought CZK 5 million in damages, but the court told him he was only entitled to be reimbursed for court fees up to the amount of CZK 200 000. Suchý then retracted his initial lawsuit and filed the current lawsuit, seeking compensation in the amount of CZK 200 000.
- Czech court levies record damages against online publisher for racist discussion posts
- Local edition of Czech daily closes online discussion board due to rising insults, racism and slander
- Czech authorities alarmingly unwilling to prosecute online hate crimes
- Slovak media closing online discussions due to hatred and racism
- Commentary: Racist drivel infests Czech online discussions of World Cup
- Czech Republic: Online hate mainly attacks Roma
- Czech Republic: Law should prevent xenophobia online but will be hard to enforce
- Neo-Nazis have a new enemy online
- German Govt approves measures to combat right-wing extremism, requires social media firms to report IP addresses of users making death threats
- Czech Regional Court returns online hate speech case about death threats against first-graders to lower court, more evidence needed
- Michal Mižigár: What democracy brought us Romani people in the Czech Republic in the 1990s
- Czech ombudswoman: Haters online frequently refuse to admit to themselves that they could be breaking the law
- Zdeněk Ryšavý: Online hate - what can we do? Welcoming remarks at the 2019 Annual Conference of the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH)
- LIVE BROADCAST: International Conference on Antigypsyism and Hate Speech Online
- Lifeguard gets state honors from Czech President for injuries sustained in brawl that sparked ultra-right anti-Romani demonstration
- European experts say hatred online endangers democracy, nonprofits are monitoring social media response to it
- Pavel Botoš: Who will stop the use of terms like "cigoši" in the Czech Republic?
- Iveta Bílková: Czech society should not tolerate words like "Cigán", "Cigoši", etc.
- Roma are most frequently targeted by hatred on the Czech Internet, experts say the law applies online too
- Patrik Banga: Social media is depriving us of context and driving us all crazy