The Czech Elves are secretive volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to monitor disinformation that they say emanates from Russia. Their name is borrowed from similar groups in the Baltic states who also combat trolls, while their chief activity is publishing regular reports about disinformation and fake news in the Czech online sphere. I discussed their work with Bob Kartous, a Czech Elves’ spokesperson and one of the few members who is not anonymous.
The Czech government has followed the example of other European countries in approving a digital tax on Internet giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The proposed 7 percent tax on services provided in the Czech Republic should bring in approximately 5 billion crowns of additional revenue a year.
Municipalities around the country have been given a year to make their web
pages user-friendly for disabled and elderly citizens, according to a new
Interior Ministry regulation.
This will necessitate a suitable presentation with regard to size, style and layout and a text that is optimal for reading programs for the blind. Newly-set up web pages must meet the criteria from the outset.
The ministry said even the smallest municipalities should have no problem meeting the criteria since work on their web pages is usually done by IT specialists via outsourcing.
Older people are the most vulnerable and targeted group in the Czech Republic when it comes to online disinformation, says Jaroslav Valůch. He is the head of the media education programme at Transitions Online, which runs media literacy courses around the country in cooperation with Elpida, a pro-seniors organisation. When Valůch visited our studios the conversation took in the specific kinds of fake news older Czechs encounter, how disinformation is poisoning intergenerational relations – and much more besides.
Just as in many other countries in the world the Czech online scene is filled with hateful comments and disinformation posing as news. The authors of this material are commonly referred to as “trolls” and their influence is increasingly seen as dangerous and divisive, potentially working on behalf of foreign actors. While this may be true in some cases it seems that the majority of the Czech troll scene is made up of individuals who do so voluntarily.
The Czech Pirate Party has called on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Foreign
Minister Tomáš Petříček and Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek to
join Poland’s complaint against the recently approved European Union’s
The Pirates are mainly against the so-called automated filtering of social media platforms, which they say is inaccurate and infringes on freedom of expression.
The EU Council officially approved the directive in April, and it went into force on June 7. Meanwhile, EU member states have to produce their own laws to implement it.
The Finance Ministry has sent the government a proposal to introduce a 7%
digital tax for large Internet companies such as Facebook and Google as of
mid-2020. According to the ministry the tax could bring approximately five
billion crowns to state coffers annually.
The proposed tax would concern internet companies with a global turnover of over € 750 million (CZK 19.1 billion), and an annual turnover of at least CZK 50 million for taxable services in the Czech Republic. Some digital economy platforms, such as Airbnb and Uber, would also be taxable.
The ministry’s proposal is based on a draft prepared by the European Commission, which however failed to win approval in the European Parliament.
The Ministry of Education has failed to standardise and implement key parts
of a strategy for teaching information technology in primary and secondary
schools, the Supreme Audit Office (SAO) says in its latest report.
The Ministry has yet to create a standard for teaching basic IT knowledge to students, as required in the Digital Education Strategy adopted in November 2014 for the period up to 2020, the auditors say
At the same time, the Supreme Audit Office says Czech schools have been allocated too little money for computer equipment and must rely too heavily on EU funds, which are not a stable source in the long term.
A Ministry spokesperson rejected the Office’s findings as misleading. They draw on data from 2011 to 2018 and don’t take into account steps implemented this year and planned through 2020, the spokesperson said.