Czech Free Speech Defense Society
Czech Free Speech Defense Society was founded as a follow-up to the Stop Censorship petition initiative. Our mission is supporting free speech as the fundamental prerequisite for democracy and oppose new forms of censorship on digital platforms, which have become the main public forums.
“STOP CENSORSHIP” PETITION
Our online petition calling for the protection of free speech on digital platforms was signed by almost 26,000 citizens. In June 2022 we presented it to the Parliamentary Petitions Committee and personally participated in its public hearing in December 2022. In April 2023 we participated in public hearing of the media committee and its subcommittee for free speech. You can read our selection of the comments that the signatories added with their signatures.
BECOMING THE MAJOR SOURCE IN CZECHIA
Our website provides clear information on topics relating to digital censorship and we chart current events in the Czech Republic and abroad. Every month it presents an overview of the most important events in the Czech Republic, Europe, the US and other places around the world. This is currently the most comprehensive Czech source of information on the restriction of free speech on digital platforms. We publish almost daily comments on our Facebook (over 14,000 followers), Twitter (more than 7,000 followers), LinkedIn (900 followers) and Instagram channels. Footage of our events can be found on YouTube (4,600 subscribers) and our activities are summarized in a regular newsletter addressing almost 30,000 subscribers.
COLLECTING CASES OF CENSORSHIP
In February 2021 we started collecting and methodically evaluating cases of censorship by digital platforms. We are preparing to hand over more than 700 processed and sorted documents to our legislators in order to discuss the issue with the responsible representatives of digital platforms in the Czech Republic.
OBTAINING THE SUPPORT OF PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES
We have obtained the support of deputies, senators, MEPs and mayors from several parliamentary parties and are in talks with other clubs. We have managed to convince MPs to approve a draft amendment on the violation of freedom of speech for the second reading (unfortunately the legal process could not be completed as their term of office came to an end) and in June 2021 we held a seminar on censorship by digital platforms attended by the legislators of several parties in the Chamber of Deputies of Parliament. We are working with legal experts to draft legislative measures.
Our goal is to compel the government and legislators to adopt legislative measures to protect free speech. We addressed five questions to all the parliamentary parties before the 2021 parliamentary election and evaluated their responses and the relevant passages in the election manifestos in the form of a clear table and accompanying analysis, to enable you to compare their attitudes.
RAISING AWARENESS OF THE DIGITAL SEVICES ACT AND EU HATE CRIME LEGISLATION
In January we published a detailed statement on the draft Union Digital Services Act posing a serious threat to free speech in the Czech Republic and drew attention to the dangers of other legislative intentions of the European Commission. We were amongst the first to inform the public about plans being prepared by the European Commission (EC) to have hate speech classed as a serious crime and to strip Member States of the power to define what constitutes hate speech. We helped to collect more than a thousand critical comments from the Czech Republic on the EC website.
SPEAKING AT PUBLIC EVENTS, FACT CHECKING AND INTERVIEWING
We have been active in giving talks and participating in panel discussions at over 10 events attended by more than 700 guests. We started to publish the series Watching the Watchmen where we verify the verdicts of fact checkers who are often wrong and are highly subjective in choosing whom and what to call into question. We have published the results of a survey in which we addressed three questions to ten signatories of Charter 77 (former dissidents from the group around Vaclav Havel) concerning free speech and the pressure on (self-)censorship.
OPPOSING DRAFTS OF THE NATIONAL LEGISLATION RESTRICTING FREE SPEECH
We condemned the illegal blocking of more than twenty websites based on direct intervention by the Czech government and are continuously monitoring and commenting on preparations for legislation aimed at approving this intervention next time. We strongly opposed intentions of the governmental envoy for disinformation and media regarding the censorship legislation and have persuaded some governmental parties not to go ahead with the Disinformation Action Plan and to abandon the drafting of a new law on disinformation.
COMMISSIONING OF A REPRESENTATIVE SURVEY ON FREE SPEECH
We have commissioned an exclusive representative survey on free speech and disinformation amongst the Czech population (data collected from the end of February 2023, three thousand respondents), the results of which clearly show that opinions in society oppose the government’s plans.
ESTABLISHING INTERNATIONAL LINKS
We have established cooperation with the Free Speech Union in the United Kingdom. We were the first in the Czech Republic to report on the Polish draft law to combat digital censorship and the Digital Freedom Committee at the Hungarian Ministry of Justice. We participated in the discussion on the “European Democracy Action Plan” (EDAP) with the European Commissioner Věra Jourová and debated with her on CNN Prima News. We are currently seeking cooperation with international or foreign free speech organizations and similar initiatives and projects across Europe.
We do not receive any subsidies and are fully independent of the state. Our work is funded solely through the support of our partners and thousands of small donors. We will be delighted if you could support us, too. Or you can buy a gift from our e-shop.
Společnost pro obranu svobody projevu, z.ú.
Králova 1a, Brno 61600, Czech Republic
Bank account: Fio banka a.s., IBAN CZ9320100000002101930409, BIC: FIOBCZPPXXX
Naše práce je závislá na podpoře malých i velkých dárců. Nepobíráme žádné dotace a jsme plně nezávislí na státu. Budeme vděčni za jakýkoliv příspěvek.
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