ACTA "uprising" in Poland
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Deutsch: ACTA-"Aufstand" in Polen
Polish youth apparently decided to break the stereotypes about the nation's passiveness and lack of interest in Internet politics. As soon as the Polish government announced that ACTA would be signed on 26 January, we became witnesses of an amazing movement. Hundreds of thousands joined protest groups created on Facebook, Polish MEPs announced they have received more than 100 000 e-mails encouraging them to vote against ACTA, petitions and appeals to Polish decision makers gained massive support.
On the top of this real and enthusiastic social movement, a group of self-proclaimed "hackers" started attacks on government servers (mostly DDOS), affecting mainly the Parliament, Prime Minister and the Ministry of Culture (responsible for ACTA dossier in Poland). Media immediately associated the attacks with Anonymous although this attribution wasn't confirmed. Apparently there was a split within the hacking community, which resulted in a few acts of denouncing. Nevertheless, social activity on ACTA and popular outrage continues and further protests are expected on 3 February.
Civic organisations are planning to organise an improvised Congress of the Free Internet on 4 and 5 February in order to meet activists from various groups and help them articulate their strategy. Many groups believe that this fight should be continued and extended beyond the issue of ACTA. Panoptykon Foundation, a member of EDRi, is involved in conceptual work and preparations. The foundation feels the burden of responsibility since it was the one which the communicated governmental plans to sign ACTA to the mainstream media (on 19 January) and prepared the ground for protesters with its earlier work. The foundation has been dealing a lot with ACTA over the last year, publishing numerous materials and sending appeals to decision makers both in Warsaw and Brussels. All of a sudden its effort, so far almost unnoticed, made perfect sense. Everybody who needed could reuse its arguments, papers and appeals for their own activity.
What is the government's response? Massive social protests supported by legal experts, mainsteam media and authorities such as the Ombudsman and the Data Protection Authority had no effect of the government's decision to sign ACTA. The Polish ambassador signed the treaty in Tokyo together with the majority of the EU Member States. The Prime Minister promised to organise real and open public consultations on ACTA - after its signing but before its ratification. For the protesters and experts criticising ACTA that promise was not enough. It is clear that this is not the end of the game, while the political situation is very dynamic. The protesters are turning more and more against the government itself. The flood of critique on ACTA and the way the Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture dealt with this "hot potato" is coming from all directions, including from within the government. Many expect further political shifts and interesting developments. We shall see.
(contribution by Katarzyna Szymielewicz - EDRi-member Panoptykon Foundation - Poland)