The parliamentary Focus party on Friday opposed the possibility of penalising media editors over readers' comments, saying that it was evident from the planned amendments to the Electronic Media Act that the ruling HDZ party had decided to censor the web under the pretext of fighting extremism.
"If we allow the HDZ to introduce the possibility, in its fight against the freedom of the media and their revelations of HDZ members' scandals, of punishing editors over readers' comments, we will be paving the way to the possibility of waking up one day in an Orwellian state where everyone is careful not to comment aloud actions by corrupt public officials, risking high fines. It is up to us to prevent the year 2024 from becoming 1984," said Focus leader Davor Nadji.
Noting that it was the HDZ that had incited extremism when it suited it, he said that the party was now using extremism to censor the web.
Media editors cannot and must not be held accountable for hate speech, he said, adding that the line can be rather unclear, whereby editors are put in an unenviable position to assume the risk, if they do not ban a comment for which they decide that it does not constitute hate speech, of having the state later decide that it was hate speech and fine them accordingly.
Nadji added that this would make it possible for those in power to exert influence on the media.