Tech giants cannot be arbitrators of the public

2021. 02. 12.

The European Parliament held a debate on the democratic scrutiny of social media and freedom of speech. Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi emphasized that freedom of speech must also be ensured on the internet. Tech giants cannot arbitrarily limit this freedom according to their own interests. Fidesz MEP Ernő Schaller-Baross welcomed the European Union’s steps towards transparent and clear rules. He added that common EU action is of utmost importance in this area, but Brussels must also respect Member States’ competences in this field.

On Wednesday afternoon MEPs debated the democratic scrutiny of social media companies. The immediate antecedent of the debate was the arbitrary blocking of former US President Donald Trump by Facebook and Twitter in January, but the issue of transparency and greater scrutiny of social media has been an important topic of debate in Brussels for some time now.

In his speech, Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi, emphasized that social media platforms are not only social networks anymore, but online interfaces that affect all areas of life. “Much of the expression of political opinion now takes place on the internet. Therefore, freedom of expression always has to be ensured on the internet”, said Hidvéghi.

According to the MEP, if we have laws that democratically regulate the functioning of the written and electronic press, then the same is needed for internet platforms. “We need rules that force internet giants to operate legally, transparently and accountably, and do not allow them to arbitrarily restrict our freedoms”, added the EPP Group politician.

Ernő Schaller-Baross, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) said in his written statement that transparency, the rule of law and the requirement of political neutrality are fundamental requirements of the functioning of the digital space, and it is a common goal which can only be achieved together with Member States.

According to MEP Hidvéghi, this is an issue on which the majority of MEPs agree, regardless of political affiliation. At the same time however, on the part of the Hungarian left, Anna Donáth, MEP of Momentum, showed once again, that she suffers from a serious Orbán-phobia. “The Momentum MEP sees ghosts, during her speech she kept on talking about ‘Orbán censorship’. It is tragic to see, that the Hungarian left is in such an intellectual state that their position on any issue is determined solely by their hatred of Viktor Orbán”, said Balázs Hidvéghi.