We are fast approaching an anniversary of first disclosures made by Edward Snowden. Even though the fundaments of our trust in democratic institutions and human rights safeguards have been shaken, political reality as seen from the European perspective remains more or less intact. What may seem even more frustrating, our understanding of the real politics behind mass surveillance programmes as revealed by Snowden remains limited.
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In our first attempt at a “transparency report”, we looked at what happens at the interface of Internet service providers and public authorities in Poland. Who sends requests for users' data? How many and for what purpose? What legal procedures are followed and what safeguards apply? Our pilot study includes analysis of legal provisions and collection of data from both major Internet Service Providers and public authorities. The report explains systemic problems that were identified in our research and that should be solved in order to ensure adequate standard of protection for individuals.
The report looks at what happens at the interface of Internet service providers and public authorities in Poland. Who sends requests for users data, how many and for what purpose, what legal procedures are followed and what safeguards apply. During our research we analysed legal provisions and collected data from both major Internet service providers and public authorities. On that basis we were able to identify several systemic problems that should be solved in order to ensure adequate standard of protection for individuals.
The story of post-Snowden debate is a story of crossing the redlines that never should be crossed in democratic society. After at least 10 years of allegations, we gained evidence showing that surveillance is not about fighting terrorism or even public security. It is about intelligence agencies best interests and easy access to citizens data. Katarzyna Szymielewicz talks about these sad truths nearly 12 months after first disclosures made by Edward Snowden.
The Polish digital rights group Panoptykon Foundation recently published harrowing findings regarding abuses of Poland’s mandatory data retention law. Using a Freedom of Information Act request, Panoptykon obtained documents that reveal that in 2011, Polish authorities requested users’ traffic data retained by telcos and ISPs over 1.85 million times — half a million times more than in 2010. These findings underscore fundamental flaws in the Polish mandatory data retention law that was fast-tracked in legislation without public debate in 2009.
Before Snowden’s revelations we had known about FISA – law that mandates big companies to cooperate with U.S. intelligence agencies and revealed data about us, but we have not been aware of the scale and the depth of that surveillance. On the basis of this new information about NSA’s mass surveillance programs, Panoptykon Foundation tried to better understand how law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Poland can access data of Internet users and thus bring more transparency in this area. Katarzyna Szymielewicz presents main conclusions from this research.
In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by the world’s governments has no limits. The NSA and other intelligence agencies are capturing our phone calls, tracking our location, peering into our contacts, and collecting our emails. They do this in secret, without adequate public oversight, and in violation of our human rights. We cannot tolerate this anymore. On Tuesday February 11, the world is fighting back.
Access of the law enforcement agencies and secret services upon more or less formal warrants and request do not cover the whole problem of the online surveillance. More and more date is available out there without any warrants – just to read, take and process. It is the situation, when the data that we all publish online, with more or less awareness of the consequences, is used by authorities mention above for whatever purposes. How purpose limitation could possibly be used to limit open source surveillance? To what extent privacy settings that by default enable or enhance making data public help in conducting this type of surveillance? How open source surveillance might influence individual?
Just after Snowden revelations about NSA’s programs of bulk, mass surveillance there was hope for political change. Politics gave many promises regarding that issue. We were talking about freezing TFTP agreement till United States explains NSA activities, serious investigation in Brussels to find out what really those programs were about and how it affected fundamental rights of European citizens. We were talking about quickly negotiating new umbrella agreement on exchange of data connected to judicial matters and police cooperation. We were talking about revision of existing agreements on exchange of personal data, like SWIFT and PNR. But now are hearing that we need to rebuild trust, because of trade relations between EU and USA and economic crisis.