by Luigi LIMONE (*)
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Panoptykon Foundation co-signed the open letter to the European Commision, regarding the situation in Poland, in which we express our concern with the legislative changes in Poland, that began with undermining with the legitimacy of the Constitutional Tribunal, but went much further, affecting the full scope of fundamental rights of Polish citizens. Amnesty International, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), Human Rights Watch, Open Society European Policy Institute, Reporters without Borders and other Polish and international NGOs were among the signees of the letters.
Videos from the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection 2017: The Age of the Intelligent Machines are already available (featuring Katarzyna Szymielewicz, the Panoptykon Foundation president).
“Register your prepaid and get free calls/Internet transfer/win a car” – you can hear from Polish telecom operators, as a reminder and encouragement that all pre-paid SIM cards have to be registered by 1st of February 2017. One could almost think that this is just nicely coordinated campaign of leading telecoms, aimed at collecting a bit more data about their clients in exchange for a bonus. Nothing new under the sun in the data-driven world? Well, not exactly. A real stake in this data collection effort is to increase control over all users of telecommunication networks in Poland, with particular focus on foreigners. The demand for more data, this time, came not from the market but directly from the policing arm of the state.
Governments do not like being watched. Nevertheless, it has became common in developed democracies to support independent media and watchdog organisations, sometimes even with dedicated public funds. Wise governments know that listening to justified and neutral criticism is a way to survive past the next elections. The Polish government has clearly decided to follow another path.
Non-governmental organizations are warning that the overly broad language of the new EU Directive on Combating Terrorism could lead to criminalising public protests and other peaceful acts, to the suppression of the exercise of freedom of expression protected under international law, including expression of dissenting political views and to other unjustified limitations on human rights.
Katarzyna Szymielewicz, the president of Panoptykon Foundation, was recognized by Access Now as a Hero of Human Rights “for her diligent work
This year we commemorate 15th anniversary of tragic attacks on the World Trade Center September 11, 2001. This date also marks the beginning of the global war on terror. What are the losses and the gains of these 15 years?
On 22 June, Polish president signed a new anti-terrorism law. The law contains measures that are inconsistent with the Polish Constitution and with the European Convention on Human Rights. The list of controversies is long: foreigners' phone calls might be wire-tapped without a court order, and police might collect their fingerprints, biometric photos and DNA if their identity is “doubtful”. Online content might be blocked, citizens' freedom of assembly limited, and secret services are given free access to all public databases.