One of the fundamental values of a democratic state is respecting the freedom of speech of its citizens, and it is a very accurate indicator of whether a state is democratic or not.
Of course, the freedom of speech is not absolute - it can be restricted. Legitimate reasons to restrict the freedom of speech by law are usually intended to protect other people's rights, for instance, by preventing the unauthorized publishing of private information, as well as to protect the state and the public by prohibiting incitement to hatred or by restricting the access to information containing state secrets.
Additionally, the freedom of speech can be restricted to ensure justice in court and the presumption of innocence, i.e. so that a person being accused of a crime isn't found guilty by the media before a court verdict. Lastly, a state may restrict the freedom of speech in order to protect intellectual property, for example, by preventing online piracy.1
During the Covid-19 pandemic, some people in Latvia believe that the freedom of speech gives them the right to say anything that comes to their mind - people are speaking against the requirement to wear masks in public areas and alleging that the application Apturi Covid (Stop Covid) is used for surveillance of the public.
In other words, it is being propagated that everything is bad in Latvia. The poor people are being forced to go through the agony of wearing masks and there is even a mobile application that will follow not only your every move, but the every move of the people in your contacts list as well.
Let's begin with the masks: Latvia isn't behind the idea of wearing masks - masks are being used all over the world to reduce the spread of the virus. Are the masks 100% effective in protecting against the virus? No, of course, but they do reduce the possibility of contracting the virus. This was proven in an experiment conducted by Japanese scientists.2 Either way, anyone is free to express their opinion on this matter.
What concerns the mobile app Apturi Covid, I will not dive in to the reasons people are against it, but I will say that it's not mandatory to download and use the application, and it does not gather user data, let alone the data of the user's contacts.3 Everyone can freely discuss the application as well.
Everything is relative depending on our point of view. If we look at the situation in Latvia, it could seem that something's not right, but if we look at the situation elsewhere in the world, everything starts to look different.
I will admit that it would be unfair to make a comparison with Belarus, that's why I will compare us with Russia, as there still are people in Latvia who believe that everything in Russia is great. What is the situation with the freedom of speech in Russia, and does the government recommend that its citizens use a particular mobile application?
I will only give bare facts and try to minimize my own opinion on them.
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