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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2016 @ 4:05pm

    There's one good thing that will come out of this.

    New Polish jokes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous Dutch coward, 17 Jun 2016 @ 4:06pm

    hybrid warfare?

    https://www.rt.com/news/345362-poland-paramilitary-units-russia/

    The link is from our Russian comrades and I guess these laws are a part of that effort and more aimed at Putin than at Daesh. Just a hunch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Rapnel (profile), 17 Jun 2016 @ 5:45pm

      Re: hybrid warfare?

      I'm not sure what they mean by hybrid. It might be a reference to events on the Crimea where the appearance of the people voting to separate from the Ukraine. From reports there did seem to be some level of the Crimean population in support of that move. If you can intercept the communications of the people then the more likely another event such as that can transpire.

      For me it seems plain that Poland is the match to the powder and any attempt on Putin's part to strike that match would be disastrous, proverbial great Russian bear or not.

      From the looks of it - threats or not - the people living in Poland are a lot less free today and tomorrow will never repay that particular debt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 12:20am

    not much of a surprise really seems like North Korea is the trend setter for formerly democratic nations. Treat your citizens likes slaves, destroy your country's economy so you can be the sole wealthy person in said country.

    It's good to be king when you rule with a private army to suppress the peasentry

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2016 @ 7:35am

      Re:

      Oh, yes, this particular set of morons, coming back from the deep communist times of '60, babble about "getting country up from its knees" and "increasing independence".

      Sounds like a good, old Kim.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 2:53am

    "...writing the law to ensure it will be abused."

    By their very definition, laws can only be applied, NOT abused. That's why it's a good idea to be careful what laws you allow to be enacted. "Un-enacting" laws can require levels of violence that make terrorism look preferable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 5:08am

    can someone please tell me what the hell was the point of millions dying in the last war, trying to keep the world a free place, when now just about every government in just about every country everywhere is doing the very things that were fought to stop? this is getting seriously out of hand! and think back to where all this 'need to watch what everyone is doing, in case they are pinching some of our music or movies without paying for them' started.
    i've left a little clue for you all in the post!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 8:18am

    People lose freedom throughout the world and still they think they are free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dariusz G. Jagielski, 18 Jun 2016 @ 8:59am

    Thing you need to understand

    Those rules were put into place by Polish part "PiS", created by Jarosław Kaczyński. Mr. Kaczyński is just like Hitler w/out 'stache and this party is nothing more than clone of NSDAP.

    I am very ashamed of my own government, but I didn't vote for them. Because I knew this was exactly what would happen. They've already put some examples when they were in charge over 8 years ago, ruining one female politician career by entrapment of CBA (which is central anticorruption burreau) created by PiS whereas pushing another female politician, Barbara Blida, to suicide.

    So yeah, the government in Poland is ran by bunch of fascist (to the point of nazism) scums, where there is also strong suspicion that our defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz, suffers from paranoidal schizophrenia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Nobody Important, 20 Jun 2016 @ 6:37am

      Re: Thing you need to understand

      Wrt. Macierewicz: the way I see that two most likely choices are that he's either a traitor or insane. A technical third would be if he had been recruited before 1989 as a formal employee/officer, not an information source.

      Of course, him being insane would simply push the responsibility upon generalissimus (who's technically insane too - it's the guilt from killing his own brother (one of the last humans in his world)).

      Wrt. nazism: that's pretty much nothing new. While Narodowo-Katolicka Polska Partia Pracy pushes the envelope further than anyone before, even their predecessors were curtailing civil liberties wherever they could (and so were the remaining members of Megacoalition "Cztery Pokoje"). It's a bit ironic though: in 1933 in Germany the takeover took place by contesting Versailles Treaty, now, in Poland, it's done by its strongest proponents (concordat).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 11:51am

    Americans are so spoiled we simply don't know how good we got it...

    Up the rear end by the IRS... DoJ... DoD... FDA... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2016 @ 7:42am

    Back to the Jaruzelski days for Poland then?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2016 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      No, not really. At least - not officially. He was, according to the current regime, a scoundrel and traitor.

      But he had such a good ideas - it would be a waste to let them be forgotten.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Nobody Important, 20 Jun 2016 @ 1:06pm

      Re:

      Anything like Jaruzelski wouldn't work these days.
      Polish political scene has been successfully eroded, wrt. potential leaders. The remaining two (generalissimus and the one who run away to Brussels) benefit from this situation.

      Funny thing about Adolf Theodore: he's called "supreme strategist" by both his cultists and his "opponents", but he's at most a skilled tactician. He just doesn't have any exit strategy for bus factor/age finally getting him.

      Of course, that might mean that only way of dealing with Megacoalition and its Black Mafia puppeteers is the classic French Revolution. The major catch of such scenario is that it inevitably turns its energy upon itself...

      Personally, I just don't see a positive solution in the near future - given that the other Big Brother (USA) is about as large problem in the long run.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim B., 20 Jun 2016 @ 4:53pm

    In the US replace civil liberties with constitutional rights.

    You'll see a marked divisiveness in your opinion of "reduced" in this context.

    Obama says "give up civil liberties", when in reality he's saying "give up constitutional rights".

    We aren't given these by the government. That's not the purpose of the constitution. The purpose of the constitution is to restrain government. These constitutional rights are rights granted not by government, but by whatever grants you the ability to be a human being.

    The constitution does not grant civil liberties. Civil liberties are granted, say by the Navy, to naval personnel wanting to go into town for a night of drunkeness.

    We aren't subjects of the State.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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