The first website shut down under §7b probably didn’t have to be shut down after all


Yesterday, we regret to inform you that we had to shut down the first website under Section 7b. In terms of the letter of the law and the authority used, we had no objection. The request was approved by the public prosecutor, who is under the authority of the judiciary.

We commended the police and gave the officer a thumbs up for leaving the decision to shut down the site to someone who must be impartial and understand the legal issues.

If you are wondering how such a shutdown works, the service was disabled, emails and databases were blocked. Just everything related to the domain. That’s what section 7(b)(2) tells us to do.

We were further ordered to secure the data under section 7(b)(1). We do this by backing up everything to a special storage location.

Could this be the first attempt to abuse the law?

The police have sent us a second request on the same matter today, demanding that we release the data we backed up yesterday. We have been asked to hand over the data to the police, which we have stored (backed up) yesterday according to the new section 7b.

Jhowever, the new paragraph §7b does not contain anything about data release. He’s only supposed to make sure we back them up. The point is that in any criminal proceedings, this data will be available in an unaltered form.

The police must request the data under another section. This is the subject of section 158d(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (surveillance of persons and property), which requires the court to give its consent. The fact that there has to be a court order already shows how sensitive the matter is.

So let’s recap. The police will have the site shut down under Section 7b and backed up. The next day, another request comes in with a reference to §7b for the release of data, which does not allow this.

Of course we refused. In this case, it was not terrorism, child pornography or any other serious case, but a corporate presentation offering ordinary services.  Nothing controversial.

But that’s not all

Police officers had previously requested information about the website in February. Under the law, we gave them what they were entitled to.

But the officers didn’t know if they would accidentally get more data now with the new §7b. So at their request, we shut down the site and backed up the data. When they finally told us what they were after, we told them that we would not release the backed-up data to them under §7b because there was no such thing.

We subsequently received a phone call asking if we would release the data to them under Section 8.

So they had the site shut down for 90 days just because they wanted some more information and data, but they didn’t know what it was…

A bad paragraph that no one understands and can be abused

We have criticised the new provision from the start because we think it is wrong. It gives the police great powers and makes us a bit of a police state. These risks are indeed there, and these are not exaggerated claims. We were concerned about the possibility that the new section could be used for censorship, economic liquidation and other actions that could be liquidating for some companies and could threaten our entire society.

We were afraid of abuse, either political or economic. We believe that this is indeed a threat. But realistically, the bigger risk than deliberate abuse is that there will be problems because officers don’t understand the issues and won’t look left, right in a good effort to investigate the case…. We have always had different scenarios based on the fact that the new section has a certain wording and cannot be used otherwise.

We have always said that police officers cannot have that kind of power and authority because they do not have the expertise to exercise it. Neither technical nor legal. They fail to assess the consequences, which can be quite substantial.

But the creativity and imagination of how the law can be bent surprised us. Another argument to fight for amendments to a problematic section.

Nobody understands. Many lawyers don’t understand it either, and everyone interprets it differently. Even the MPs did not understand at first that the situation was serious. How can the police understand this then?

Democracy cries…

If our legislators and other concerned people don’t get this by now, I think they really should all quit. 🙂

If the public doesn’t get it, we may see other sites shut down tomorrow. For example, even those where you go to read the news, or perhaps your company presentation or e-shop. You know that – it has to be investigated, and preventing the spread of anything is essential.

In previous articles we have written comparisons with Slovakia and Poland. They’ve got it handled well there. As in other modern democracies. In our opinion, there is better legislation even in Russia. We’re just gonna take it easy.

Want to learn more about §7b?

Article You want to destroy the competition? Czech laws are here for you! we released 19. 2. 2019 and describes §7b and its possible abuse in practice.

We have received many positive but also negative reactions, especially from people who tried to defend §7b. That is why we decided to refute the frequently used arguments in an article called “lex WEDOS”, published on 27. 2. 2019. It also proposes several modifications to the disputed portions of §7b. We wanted to show that it can be done democratically.

The more we looked into §7b and the events surrounding it, the more absurd we found it. We have even found that they have more moderate and, above all, more logical procedures in Russia. Read more in our article z 4. 3. 2019 We talked to Andrei about it. The situation is close to that in Russia….

We had no idea how the topic of interception of internet communications, data release and shutting down services from a legal perspective is confusing even for many experts. We have therefore decided to write down all the related sections and how they are used in practice and compare them with the new §7b. Article To help and protect? We’re gonna shut down your website. Brand. came out 5. 3.2019 and was intended for everyone who is interested in this topic and wants to learn something from behind the scenes.

Section 7b is the biggest attack not only on freedom of speech since the establishment of the independent Czech Republic, and it is not enough to speak out. That is why we met with the MPs from the Pirate Party to inform them of the seriousness of the situation. You can read how it went in the article How we went to fight for freedom not only for the Internet – Section 7b needs to be changed!

The first request to shut down, the site under the new §7b, was received on March 13, 2019 at 9:56 a.m. We wrote an article on this subject First website deleted from the Internet under the new section §7b of the Criminal Procedure Code.