The problems we address

New technologies are a part of our lives today. They help you learn, work, shop, rest, even love. Whatever you do, though, you leave traces behind. And you have no control over who and how will use them.

The sheer amount of information that states and corporations hold in their hands threatens our freedom, privacy and democracy. The more they known about you, the more easily they can manipulate you. You and millions of people like you all over the world.

The Panoptykon Foundation responds to these challenges. We focus on three problem areas.

Unscrutinised security services
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Security services in Poland enjoy unlimited and unrestricted access to information. A police officer is always a few clicks away from your phone call history, location data and tax forms. The Central Anticorruption Bureau uses the Pegasus spyware for screening people who are considered inconvenient by the authorities. The Internal Security Agency may demand steady access to the recordings from thousands of urban CCTV cameras.

Their actions are not subject to any actual control. So even if you are not breaking the law, you still may be at risk of being surveilled. Perhaps you just stand out a bit too much. Is your company doing unusually well this year? Are you involved in public protests? A suspicion is enough for agencies to monitor your life – and get away with it. You will never know.

How are we changing that?

We bring to light what law enforcement and security agencies would prefer to hide from you. In courts, we fight for information on how much data they extract and which tools they use. We demand legal changes so that these services are actually kept in check and innocent people are notified if they have been investigated.

Corporations like Google or Meta are running the Internet their way. They maximize profits and minimize their accountability for the damage caused by their business model. These Internet giants shape your experience online. They make arbitrary decisions which content and profiles to show you, and which to hide. Their algorithms promote whatever gets people going, makes them click and captures their attention for longer – at the cost of valuable and reliable content. This foments radicalization and accelerates the spread of misinformation.

Big Tech corporations follow your every move. Even if you never reveal sensitive information about yourself, they will discover your every fear and weakness by analyzing your clicks and searches. They do all that so they can present you with content that keeps you around longer and makes you act. And because they profit off your attention, they design their services to be addictive like substances. People’s mental health and social relationships suffer for it.

How are we changing that?

We expose how corporations use their information about people and what kind of harm they cause. We fight for laws that would limit their power and hold them accountable. We put pressure on corporations to abandon bad practices: that is why we sued Facebook for arbitrary censorship and made an official complaint about the tracking advertising system operated by Google. We promote alternatives that respect user privacy.

Artificial Intelligence affects your life more and more profoundly. It suggests who to talk to and what to watch. It decides if your job resume will find its way to a recruiter’s desk. It is used in medicine, public administration and law enforcement. It excels at analyzing big data and detecting patterns. Unfortunately, it increasingly replaces people even from processes that require a personal approach, kindness and empathy.

But artificial intelligence is not infallible. The results of its work are dependent on the data on which it was trained and on the decisions that were made in its design phase. Errors and biases most often affect groups which are underrepresented in datasets, including women, ethnic minorities or people living in poverty. Some faults are caused by political or business decisions.

How are we changing that?

We dispel the myth of the fully reliable, objective and fair AI. We show its limitations and expose the interests of the people behind it. We fight for laws that would minimize the damaging uses of artificial intelligence.