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.
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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.
Eben Moglen, famous lawyer and publicist, in cooperation with Richard Stallman created Free Documentation License GNU. Director-Counsel of the Software Freedom Center and founder of the Freedom Box Foundation at the request of Panoptykon Foundation comments on Edward Snowden’s nomination for Sakharov Prize.
Have the Polish authorities been aware of the PRISM program operated by US security services and have they discovered violations of the Polish law? Is the Polish prosecution going to investigate the matter? Who, and on what grounds, decided to refuse asylum to Edward Snowden?
These are just three of the 100 questions that Amnesty International Poland, the Panoptykon Foundation and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights asked today to the public authorities, including the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Why do we need the reform of European Personal Data Protection Law? Panoptykon Foundation prepared a publication explaining problems regarding current law and presenting solutions to those problems that should be included in new regulation on personal data protection.
Do we really need data protection in this world? Katarzyna Szymielewicz (Panoptykon Foundation) and Jérémie Zimmermann (La Quadrature du Net) talk about usage of data collected in Internet by private companies and changes that new data protection regulation could bring, including explicit consent for data processing as a rule, information about data processing presented in clear manner, regulation of profiling and privacy by default concept.