ACTA "uprising" in Poland

By EDRi · February 1, 2012

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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

(contribution by Katarzyna Szymielewicz – EDRi-member Panoptykon Foundation – Poland)