Illustration photo – Prime Minister Petr Fiala at a press conference in Prague after the government meeting, February 1, 2023.
Ostrava – In the future, the state could have a legal tool at its disposal with which it would be able to use temporary measures to combat disinformation, for example by shutting down websites that are demonstrably under the influence of foreign powers. Shutting down websites should only be used in the event of a threat to the state. Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) said this today in a discussion with students at the Faculty of Economics of the Mining University – Technical University of Ostrava. According to him, however, the court could always cancel the decision used in practice. He drew attention to the fact that the relevant proposal is still being created. The government hasn't even agreed on it yet.
“Disinformation is a sensitive topic today. There is a lot of disinformation circulating about disinformation and the fight against disinformation. But no fight against it must lead to restrictions on freedom of speech. Not even in limiting the right to express opinions. Even stupid ones or based on lies. Every citizen The Czech Republic must have the right to say what it wants,” he said when asked by one of Fiala's students.
According to him, the problem lies in how a sovereign state should react when a foreign power is waging a disinformation campaign against it with its financial resources. “If he is working inside our country. It is possible to respond to that, for example, by shutting down disinformation websites,” he said. He added, however, that this should only be used in the event of a threat to the state. Moreover, such a decision should be reviewable by the court within seven days. “Then it could happen that the state court would cancel such a measure,” he added.
In mid-January of this year, Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) spoke about the bill to limit the spread of content threatening national security online during parliamentary interpellations. “The law is supposed to protect national security in the online space,” the Austrian said. According to him, these would be cases, for example, if someone called on the Internet to occupy the Parliament or to other similar violence against any group of the population. “Nothing more (the law) will do,” he emphasized. So far, according to the Austrian, there is an initial working version, which is being debated with, for example, lawyers and experts in IT operations.
Fiala's cabinet approved the creation of the position of advisor for national security at the end of last year, Tomáš Pojar has been in charge since January. The adviser working at the government office is supposed to be the departmental coordinator for matters of hybrid threats, disinformation and other serious security issues. It is supposed to ensure, among other things, the cooperation of the intelligence and security forces and their effective procedure. According to the prime minister, a similar function has been missing in the Czech Republic for a long time.