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22. 4. 2016 11:16

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister P. Bělobrádek – Hackathon 2016

You now probably want to hear that the Internet is a space where absolute freedom reigns and always will. Well, in that case, you should not have invited a Cabinet minister.

Because as you know, every government has a tendency to impose restrictions, regulations, and censorship ... Okay, let's now be serious.

As much as I value the Internet as a free space, I cannot ignore the fact that Internet freedom is exploited by terrorists, perpetrators of organized crime, producers of child pornography, fraudsters, tax evaders, racists, operators of illegal gambling outlets, and copyright violators.

I'm fully aware that the Internet community does not like to hear this. But I cannot but insist that freedom is not equal to anarchy and that one person's freedom ends where someone else's begins.

Although the Internet is a new phenomenon, it cannot be exempt from the rule of law just like any other area of human activity. The government has an obligation to its citizens to guarantee security and lawfulness. It means that there must be a way of penalizing people who would otherwise use unrestricted freedom to commit crime and spread violence.

And just like in the case of standard criminal offences, we cannot rely on individuals' conscience with regard to crime committed using the Internet.

On the other hand, I also have good news for you. Although opinions on this subject within the Cabinet vary, I, personally, insist that all restrictions and regulations concerning the Internet must be consulted with the people who are concerned by them.

I'm convinced that a certain degree of Internet regulation is in your – as well as everybody else's – interest; it's in the interest of all honest and law-abiding people. The protection of intellectual property is the most important comparative advantage Western societies have. Absolute freedom would translate into unrestricted possibilities of using other people's ideas for unfair enrichment.

That being said, a balance must be maintained between the necessary regulation of criminal conduct on the one hand, and civil rights on the other. Security, like anything else, must not be used as a pretext for suppressing freedoms. I am open to discussing any issue. I will protect the interests of children, I will protect people from terrorists, I will protect the families of pathological gamblers, and, at the same time, I will protect the interests of all of you for whom the Internet is means of production.

Thank you for your attention.

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