Poland: Government Will Sign ACTA Despite Massive Protest

“The Acta agreement in no way changes Polish laws or the rights of internet users and internet usage.” – despite a massive Internet protest and controversies around the secret manner of negotiations, Minister of Administration and Digitisation Michal Boni admitted after the meeting with PM Donald Tusk that the government would sign the anti-piracy agreement ACTA on January 26, as planned.

In an interview with a radio station, Boni said [pl] that it was impossible not to sign the agreement, because it was too late: Poland joined the negotiation process in 2008 and all the other European countries have already signed it. He added that Poland “should attach a clause to the treaty that would show how we interpret these articles”. Boni promised [pl] broad public consultations during the European ratification process. Several Polish NGOs expressed [pl] their disappointment with the government's stance on ACTA and appealed to change the decision.

Since January 21, online hackers calling themselves Anonymous have been attacking and shuting down government websites almost constantly, in a chaotic protest against the plans to sign the international treaty on Thursday.

TANGO DOWN: User @Anonymouswiki owns up to the web attacks on the websites of the prime minister, the parliament and other government entities. Screenshot: Twitter @Anonymouswiki

Although the hackers still enjoy a strong support among netizens, and the attacks were one of the reasons the mainstream media picked up the topic of ACTA, the group also faces criticism from the major Polish tech-bloggers. Maciej Gajewski from Spidersweb calls them [pl] “crying kids worried for their mp3″ and regrets that they became the face of the protest giving the government officials an argument against the movement:

Critics, mistrust and suspicion is one thing, but panic, mumbling and spreading disinformation is another thing. Looking at some finds on the biggest Polish social news platforms, looking at the comments of some readers, I get the impression that the lion's share of the protesters have no idea what ACTA is about. They've made up fantastic stories and are passing them on. The mass is getting crazy “Impale PM”, “Let's burn the Minister on the stake!”, “They will all lock us down in prisons!”. And then also Anonymous, who just make the whole protest look ridiculous in the eyes of mature older voters.

Over 900 Polish websites went dark on January 24

As opposed to the web attacks on government websites, Antyweb called [pl] on his blog on January 23 for a protest “in a cultured way, namely, a blackout” and provided a script and an instruction on how to do it. In response, more than 900 websites decided to “go dark” and display an anti-ACTA message. Allegro, the Polish equivalent of Ebay, placed an “anti-ACTA” banner next to the company's logo. The list of the websites taking part in the protest is available here.

"This is what the Internet might look like very soon. NO to ACTA" – over 900 Polish websites decided to go dark on January 24 in protest against the treaty. Screenshot: http://spiderweb.pl

The opposition party, the Democratic Left Alliance, also said the government should not sign the agreement and blackouted its website [pl] in solidarity.

While the global media, with a few exceptions, keep silent about the Polish protest, national information services race to publish dozens of opinions, analyses and the latest reports on the ACTA case. In the meantime, the protest movement seems to be getting bigger and bigger: the anti-ACTA protest event on Facebook Nie dla ACTA has reached over 400,000 fans. A real-life protest in Warsaw gathered [pl] over 1,000 people on Tuesday, and another one is being planned for Wednesday, January 25.

"Screw corporations, long live the people": many Polish protesters went on the streets on January 24. Photo by Alexey Sidorenko, used with permission.

Vagla, a popular Polish digital rights blogger, shared this hope [pl] on Twitter on January 24:

I guess that slowly people start to understand that this is not a discussion about “piracy” and “thieves” but about the direction in which our civilisation is heading.

***

Update:

Later on January 24, PM Tusk confirmed officially [pl] at a press conference that Poland will sign ACTA on January 26. At the same time, he stressed that the government will not give in to blackmail, meaning the earlier web attacks. Poland strives for internet freedom, said Tusk.

14 comments

  • Jay

    There are protests planned all across Poland today. The western media has only been distributing one article by the Associated Press. It is also stating for some odd reason the extreme right wing party is organizing it. This is false. This is a protest of all walks and political ideals. Here are the list of protest sites across Poland. http://stopacta.net.pl/

  • Do they still have a communist regime in Poland? (p.n IRONY)

  • [...] will sign ACTA despite massive protests, Global Voices Online reports, citing Polish Minister of Administration and Digitisation Michal [...]

  • Stan aka 'Xeno'

    No, am afraid mr Marx after all was right. Communism will arise on west was right after all EU in the way it currently is fits the description prety well. US govt corrupting their democracy follows this route as well.

    Back on topic, here in Lodz there 2500 protesters on the street, both from left and right wing parties. There was huge (+10 000 ppl) protest in Cracow, in Wroclaw, Rzeszow, Olsztyn and Bydgoszcz protests gathered from few thousands people each city.

    What is remarkable, protest are organised by individual peaople and organisations/parties not present in Polish parliment. This says much how can we trust our representatives.

  • Yeah

    The government should say what ACTA does, not what it not does. It does something, right? Else it would be just a waste of time. But governments everywhere like to cloud it, the USA even declared it secret due to “national security”. But yeah, sure, nothing will change, nothing will happen, everything will be a-okay, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.
    And you will have nothing left to hide.

  • JonD

    There were thousands of people on the street of Poland today.
    They were screaming and singing songs like: “” f*ck the PM, we dont want acta, we will not let you take our freedom away from us, f*ck the EU and its regime, f*ck the EU’s modern communism,
    Mr PM your term of office is done “”"
    My ‘favorite’ was sth like:
    Donald (the PM’s name) you prick, where will you be watching porn? lol

    I think that the people of Poland have gone postal..
    hope they win – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for them

  • NexPL

    Over 100 000 people protested on the streets across Poland last night. But government doesn’t care.
    This is only the beginning of the Polish Revolution, for sure.

  • Links for 2012-01-25 [del.icio.us]…

    Tonight…one year ago « Breath notes #Tahrir (Tonight…one year ago) http://t.co/dT1AxBg6

  • Rey

    Guess what despite all the thing that had been going on around ACTA was signed by an Polish ambassador at 3.30 AM. Woohoo proud to live in there. Great time to pack my bags and leave that crap hole of a country if You ask Me.

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