Poland To Massively Expand Surveillance, Reduce Civil Liberties
from the whoa dept
From the perspective of an American, it’s perhaps too easy to assume that everyone around the world has the same amount of fatigue over surveillance and the terrorism scare that I do. After all, even a good percentage of Americans still consider the threat of international terrorism to be a major cause for concern within their own lives, regardless of how much or little it actually impacts them directly. But Europe is dealing with its own cases of terrorism and the associated concerns that arise from it. Still, it’s disappointing to watch one European nation, Poland, expand surveillance powers and internet censorship in very big ways.
From Freedom House, an independent organization pushing for freedom and human rights around the world, we learn that Poland has essentially passed new laws in which the only direction pursued is in more surveillance and less civil liberty.
In response to the Polish government’s new counter-terrorism and surveillance laws, which allow authorities to block websites and telecommunications, limit the freedom of assembly, and allow secret surveillance of virtually the whole population, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Granting open-ended powers to intelligence agencies to counter terrorism at the cost of every citizen’s privacy and freedom marks a clear abuse of power by the government,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president. “The government seems determined to allow police and intelligence agencies to monitor all personal data and all communications without needing to establish the existence of any actual threat, a disturbing step toward removing checks and balances on government action.”
Far from blowing the situation out of proportion, the law approved by the lower house of parliament in Poland is equal parts dangerously vague in some areas, granting government power, while unfortunately specific in others, where rights of the public are to be reduced. For instance, the law reportedly deals with granting law enforcement and government the ability to shut down communications, websites, and to monitor foreign citizens, with the only real specificity being that they can do all that for three months without even a court order. The powers during those three months are virtually unlimited, because they aren’t reigned in by the language in the bill. It’s almost as though they were writing the law to ensure it will be abused.
Meanwhile, the law also expands what is considered “terrorism”, because when has that ever gone wrong? Included is also an extension of how long a suspect can be held without being charged to fourteen days.
And what is the public getting out of this? I suppose the answer is the warm and fuzzy feeling of safety through the watchful eyes of an overbearing government? Whatever the Polish public is getting, it certainly isn’t freedom.