Member of the Board of the Polish Linux Users Group. Human rights in digital era hacktivist, Free Software advocate, privacy and anonimity evangelist; expert volunteer to the Panoptykon Foundation; co-organizer of SocHack social hackathons; charter member of the Warsaw Hackerspace; and Telecomix co-operator; biker, sailor.

Formerly President of the Board of the Polish Free and Open Source Software Foundation; CTO of BRAMA Mobile Technologies Laboratory on Warsaw University of Technology and a student at Philosophy Institute on Warsaw University.

Table of Contents

02.07.2016Dzień, w którym cenzura Sieci w Polsce stała się faktem pl 152 13.04.2015Needless haystacks en 151 12.03.2015e-Dockleracje pl 150 19.01.2015Ban on encryption is not about banning encryption en 149 13.01.2015Not Free as in Beer en pl 148 30.12.2014GPG Key Transition en pl 147 18.12.2014Siła wyższa pl 146 04.12.2014Internet in Poland to be porn-free after all? en pl 145 27.11.2014Block everything! en pl 144 02.11.2014Introducing: rysiek's law of unavoidable consequences en pl 143 09.09.2014Stop paedophilia en pl 142 22.06.2014Even with EME, Mozilla will become "the browser that can't" en 141 21.06.2014EuroDIG 2014 en pl 140 19.06.2014Hacker in the Digital Affairs Council en pl 139 30.05.2014Public consultations and anonymity en pl 138 18.05.2014Why being a pirate is not worth it en pl 137 15.05.2014On Mozilla, DRM and irrelevance en pl 136 14.05.2014Not-quite-good-enough-Mundial en 135 12.04.2014Irresponsible non-disclosure en pl 134 29.03.2014Ecologic, Ford and surveillance en pl 133 15.03.2014Otwórzmy edukację pl 132 10.03.2014Blurry line between private service and public infrastructure en 131 08.03.2014IM IN UR MINISTRY, CONSULTING UR INTERNETZ en pl 130 17.02.2014Encrypted VoIP that works en pl 129 11.02.2014So you want to censor the Internet... en pl 128 02.02.2014This is why we can't have nice IRC en 127 31.01.2014Decentralize where your mouth is en pl 126 30.01.2014A link cannot be illegal en pl 125 30.01.2014Copyright reform debate lives on en pl 124 26.01.2014Neat HaCSS, or let's de-JS the Web a bit en 123 27.12.2013Information Account Number en 122 14.12.2013HaIPu en 121 20.11.2013Friends of TTIP and data protection in Brussels en 120 19.11.2013Social media, Polish Pirates style en pl 119 05.11.2013A rude comment en 118 20.10.2013TEDx Warsaw Women and privacy en pl 117 03.10.2013Copyreform at CopyCamp 2013 en pl 116 22.09.2013Long-expected KMail2 rant en 115 18.09.2013Facebook for schools en 114 12.09.2013In which I call upon United Poland parliamentarians to guarantee citizens the right to Internet free of surveillance en pl 113 08.09.2013Complaintivism en 112 04.09.2013It's his own fault en pl 111 19.08.2013Lies, damn lies, and analytics en pl 110 27.07.2013Shortest Internet censorship debate ever en pl 109 22.07.2013Cómo el compartir información desarraiga los modelos conservadores de negocio en es 108 22.07.2013Posts' markup is now available en pl 107 11.07.2013Kultura wolna i legalna pl 106 07.06.2013Internet is not a problem en pl 105 05.06.2013Libel Culture en 104 17.05.2013Wojtuś Fatalista i wolność w Internecie pl 102 17.05.2013Por qué hallo la licencia -ND como innecesaria y dañina en es pl 101 28.03.2013Wolność nasza codzienna pl 100 17.03.2013Nie wszystko korpo co o wolności w Internecie pl 99 15.03.2013♫ Odpowiadam na e-maile ♫ pl 98 11.02.2013One year anniversary of Anti-ACTA en pl 97 30.01.2013Nie ma haka na słabe dziennikarstwo? pl 96 30.01.2013Fighting Black PR around OER en pl 95 29.01.2013HOWTO: effectively argue against Internet censorship ideas en pl 94 20.11.2012Border conditions for preserving subjectivity in the digital era en pl 93 19.11.2012Social blogosphere en pl 92 07.11.2012Embrace fragmentation en pl 91 02.11.2012SERVICES.TXT en pl 90 24.10.2012Apple por fin saltó por la borda en es 89 24.09.2012Rompiendo los muros del jardín en es pl 88 24.09.2012Minister i Kultura pl 87 24.09.2012Melbourne CryptoParty video message en 86 16.09.2012On sailor's sensitivity, or "the starry heavens above me" en pl 85 22.08.2012Black PR around Polish e-Textbooks en pl 84 15.08.2012Regaty utracone pl 83 24.07.2012Hypochristian Love en 82 24.07.2012Some new Layout Goodness en pl 81 17.07.2012Party 2.0 en pl 80 16.07.2012Prawo autorskie po ACTA pl 79 13.07.2012Party as a system hack en pl 78 10.06.2012Are corporations dangerous only in collusion with governments? en 77 09.06.2012Proxies! Proxies everywhere! en 76 05.06.2012Automagic re-publishing from Twitter to StatusNet en pl 75 18.05.2012TPSA/Orange and GIMP, or a word on 5 users en pl 74 16.05.2012Słowo o Warsztatach MAiC pl 73 15.04.2012Schowaj gadżeta pl 72 05.04.2012Perfect ToDo-oid en 71 27.03.2012Subjectively on Anti-ACTA in Poland en pl 70 25.03.2012On copyright in Budapest en pl 69 23.03.2012Kościoła poczucie odpowiedzialności pl 68 20.03.2012Learning to Internet en pl 67 19.03.2012Kościoła wiara w wiernych pl 66 29.02.2012Brussels Safari #1 - EP press conference and ITRE en pl 65 21.02.2012Because ACTA is passé en pl 64 20.02.2012Privacy of correspondence, EU-style en pl 63 17.02.2012Polish PM on ACTA: I was wrong en pl 62 12.02.2012Anonymous vs Corponymous en pl 61 10.02.2012To have a cookie and dowload it too en pl 60 19.01.2012About ACTA at Polish PM Chancellery en pl 59 19.01.2012Free as in United en pl 58 16.01.2012Towarzystwo czuje się oszukane pl 57 10.01.2012Terms of Using the Service en pl 56 05.01.2012Corporate lack of patriotism en pl 55 04.01.2012Terroristcopters en pl 54 03.01.2012IceWeasel and Privacy en pl 53 28.12.2011Good Uncle Stal... Putin en pl 52 25.12.2011Useful Bash defaults done right en 51 21.12.2011Google Mail, or how mail becomes publication en pl 50 20.12.2011Occupy Gotham en pl 49 11.12.2011Copyfraud en pl 48 08.12.2011Multikino Wikipedia FAIL pl 47 27.11.2011Nie miejsce na pl 46 18.11.2011One-way cutting en pl 45 12.11.2011Tolerancja dla Kościoła pl 44 11.11.2011Users and Citizens en pl 43 30.10.2011Adhocracy and Net4Change en pl 42 18.10.2011War on Fun en pl 41 16.10.2011Boli mnie w krzyżu pl 40 14.10.2011Technocomplacency en pl 39 10.10.2011I Can Haz? pl 37 09.10.2011Election Silence in Poland en pl 38 03.10.2011Kibice i kampania pl 36 02.10.2011E-textbooks, Johnny Mnemonic, business and the Net en pl 35 19.09.2011CC Global Streaming/Summit/Party pl 33 19.09.2011Czy jest coś takiego jak darmowe śniadanie? pl 34 12.09.2011Faktycznie Super pl 32 12.09.2011Diaspora-Based Comment System en 31 11.09.2011Conflict of values en pl 30 06.09.2011Wolność słowa to nie wolność od myślenia ani od krytyki pl 29 06.09.2011On-line privacy and anonymity: case in point en pl 28 04.09.2011On being careful with words en pl 27 03.09.2011W obronie QR Code pl 26 31.08.2011Stolica Nie Tak Święta pl 25 29.08.2011Of malware, hot steam, privacy, using one's brain and paedoparanoia en 24 29.08.2011Kragen Thinking Out Loud en pl 23 18.08.2011Ból, blizny, dziewczyny i wiosła pl 22 07.08.2011Worst. Woodstock. Ever! pl 21 27.07.2011Willpower, productivity and cycling en pl 20 19.07.2011Neo FreeRunner as a WiFi Soundcard en 19 10.07.2011A Weekend with lawyers en pl 18 09.07.2011One step closer to ideal en pl 17 04.07.2011Apostasy in Poland en pl 16 28.06.2011YAFR (Yet Another Facebook Rant) en pl 15 19.06.2011Wiara w priorytety pl 14 17.06.2011Important meetings, fun meetings en pl 13 13.06.2011Ooops I en pl 12 30.05.2011Playing with Node.js en pl 11 25.05.2011Mozilla, Google and the Location Bar en pl 10 24.05.2011At Sector 3.0 conf en pl 9 23.05.2011Layout, CSS and RSS/Atom en pl 8 15.05.2011Startup Weekend Network Fun Fun Fun en 7 11.05.2011Nowy szef Bramy pl 6 10.05.2011World's Smallest Open Source Violin en pl 5 10.05.2011Po kolejnym spotkaniu w KPRM pl 4 08.05.2011Inspiracja na niedzielę pl 3 08.05.2011I horizontally the whole blog is that serious pl 2 07.05.2011I can has brag en pl 1

Subjectively on Anti-ACTA in Poland

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A note to English readers: wherever I could find English sources, I used them; however, many a time it was not possible, hence you will find many Polish links in this text.

To say that much was happening lately around ACTA in Poland is a huge understatement. During the last two months we went from being informed of planned ACTA signing, through street protests (spreading far beyond Poland), so-called "attacks" on Polish government websites, the signing itself, then attempts of returning to talks and finally — complete reversal of the official government stance and calling the treaty "passé".

It was an important, powerful and extremely interesting outburst of so-called Internets against something perceived to be a danger to the liberties and rights to use this great tool.

Hit Fits the Shan

First and foremost — none of participants to the memorable January meeting with the Ministry of Administration and Digitalisation expected what was going to happen.

On one hand, this is a statement of how trusting towards the government the NGOs had been (remembering the promise given on the 18th of May, 2011 that all works on ACTA shall be halted until all our questions are answered). On the other — a testament to just how completely ignorant of the importance of this treaty the ministries responsible for it in Poland — the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Economy — had been.

After casually remarking on the fact of the planned signing in one week's time (on the 26th of January), representatives of those ministries apparently intended to just move one to next items on the agenda.

Obviously, at this point there were no other items. Few seconds of complete silence followed: people from NGOs were trying to comprehend what exactly has just been said, while the host of the meeting, minister Igor Ostrowski, published a single tweet and sank into disbelief; representatives of the two responsible ministries themselves looked like rabbits caught in headlights, starting to slowly realise something bad is going to happen, but not really sure what and why...

Internets awaken

From this moment onwards everything has been happening with tempo that surprised everybody; after first information on planned signing surfaced, Polish Internet seethed with rage, just as it did two years before when ideas of network filtering and censorship surfaced (those have been dumped since). There were, however, important differences:

  • many Polish Internet users, especially those more tech-savvy, followed the ACTA topic for years, hence the pressure and interest were already there;
  • there were promises made by the government regarding the treaty and those were broken, so naturally people following the topic felt cheated;
  • there was a concrete date set, in the nearest future, so time pressure was also there.

Additional crucial factor was provided by the SOPA/PIPA Blackout, ending mere hours before ACTA signing plans surfaced. The public was well informed about dangers stemming from those and similar attempts to curtail Internet sharing and was interested in the topic. ACTA became a natural continuation for the SOPA/PIPA topics present in Polish media for more than a week by then. And it was something that actually applied to Poland.

One important thing to remember is that Poles still do remember vividly the communism years, police state and censorship. And vehemently oppose any attempts of bringing them back in any form.

All this meant that the energy of the outburst was significantly higher than two years before. During just few hours, instead of open letters and on-line petitions that had been the prime tool back then, real people organising true street protests and manifestations started to appear. What is essential (and very interesting in and of itself), these were completely spontaneous, grass-roots activities, not associated with NGOs that had been bringing up the ACTA problem for years (like Panoptykon, ISOC, Modern Poland Foundation or Free and Open Source Software Foundation).

Ground rules

Instantly we understood that — being the NGOs involved in the ACTA topic for years — our job is to take upon ourselves the role of experts and rudimentary coordinators; simply put, we would not find the time to do anything besides that (and boy were we right, we were completely swamped with this work for more than a solid month). Our tasks from that point on were:

  • providing know-how, information, documents, statements regarding ACTA and related topics;
  • reacting to whatever was happening (sometimes the situation was literally changing by the hour), including providing coherent communiques for and via media;
  • attempting to influence the individual protest organisers from all around Poland to keep their protests peaceful, on-topic, organised according to law of the land and as far as possible — coordinated in time.

Completely organically we understood we need a no-logo rule — no party, group or similar logos, banners, flags, etc. Just protesting together against a single cause, not promoting our respective organisations. This met with some dissent at first — not surprisingly many entities tried to pin their names to this huge commotion. We all understood perfectly, however, that once any political party or group attaches their name to this informal movement, it would spell failure: we would get tagged and pushed into old categories, and hence trivialised.

Sea of people

And then came the day of protests — tens of thousands of people in the whole country decided to face the -30°C temperatures to voice their critical opinion over the treaty.

There were no such protests in Poland at least since the 1980's. They covered the whole country, including smaller towns; they were peaceful and on-topic; they all concerned a single issue, and all had the same slogans on banners and being shouted by the protesters; people from all possible political groups and affiliations took part, often side-by-side with whom they normally perceived as enemies, and heeding the no-logo rule; interestingly, politicians that tried to hook themselves with the protests — all failed miserably.

Thanks to excellent and coherent stance of the individual protest organisers it was possible to fend off politicization of the protests; that made it possible for very different groups of people — from right-wing activists to anarchists, and everything in between — to stand together, protesting hand-in-hand against a common cause. No one felt uninvited because of their political views. And that meant more people protesting together.

An unintended consequence of this political diversity on the streets was that neither politicians nor media had a clue how to describe the movement, how to narrate about it nor categorize it. In no way did it fit the traditional ways of describing protests in Poland. That also worked in our advantage. It turned out that neither media nor politicians are able to handle truly grass-roots, spontaneous initiatives focused on particular issues, functioning over (or away from!) the usual political and social divides.

Government websites get popular

This inability to tag the protesters ended as soon as government websites got "popular" — as that is how the government spokesman at first described DDoS action by Anonymous. As soon as government officials understood their mistake, instantly they took the opportunity and started describing the anti-ACTA movement as "hackers, terrorists", "attacking" government websites.

It was so very convenient for the government as it made it possible to portray the protests in unfavourable way and gave the perfect excuse to discard valid objections of hundreds of thousands Poles:
We will not succumb to blackmail.

Immediately we saw that coming and tried contacting Anonymous in order to try and convince them to halt the attacks. To our surprise, it was effective.

Still, the "blackmail" excuse has been already used and ACTA got signed by the Polish ambassador on 26th of January.

Protests, however, continued — and mainstream media started publishing opinion polls regarding them.

Let's talk

Apparently, that was finally something the government took notice of. Suddenly it became apparent that we're not some "anonymous Internet users", but living, breathing citizens, voicing our objections regarding something the government decided to do. We stopped being seen as some kids with a computer, "pirates", "hackers"; the government was starting to see that there are Voters in our ranks. And that made a world of difference.

The government switched into damage control mode and started frantically seeking ways of "establishing a dialogue" — in other words something we called for for years... Also, Polish Ombudsman in her statement regarding the situation, called upon Polish universities to organise debates on the topic.

We decided to organise our own event, to meet each other, get as many of the people involved in a single place and share the know-how, giving protest organisers tools and information needed to be effective in what they were doing. So we organised the Improvised Free Internet Congress.

At this point the government already seemed desperate. A single day before the Congress (Friday evening!) we received invitations to a debate with the Prime Minister and ministers, planned for... the following Monday. This might have been a cunning move aimed at not allowing us to respond (media are slow on weekends), or a desperate attempt to relieve the tension as soon as possible. The fact that minister Boni unexpectedly (a single hour in advance) announced his coming to the Congress suggests the latter.

Naturally, one of the main (and of course by far the hardest) tasks at hand at the Congress was formulating an answer to the invitation to the Monday debate. Finally we realised that in light of sending out invitations on Friday evening and taking into account how well over a year of talks about ACTA with the government worked for us, only a single answer was proper: decline.

We decided, however, to take part via electronic means — especially when we were able to convince the organiser of the debate (Ministry of Administration and Digitalisation) to include, apart from a bit unfortunate choice of Twitter and Facebook (closed, private, corporate networks), also good old standardised IRC (a dedicated, moderated channel was set-up on Telecomix servers).

The debate lasted over 7 hours straight (which, of course, meant a lot of comedy-grade material). Nevertheless, it seemed that the government started treating the ACTA topic really seriously.

PM Tusk admits a mistake

And finally on Friday, the 17th day of February, 2012, Prime Minister Donald Tusk admitted he was wrong. This took us completely by surprise, but curiously the most surprised seemed to be the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage — as only the day before they sent out a document defending ACTA. They were so surprised, in fact, that they apparently cancelled their representative's participation in ACTA debate planned for the following Monday (but announced before PM's decision reversal).

We have much to discuss

This debate was quite important, as it was the first of the university-organised ACTA debates, postulated by the Ombudsman that took place after PM's change of heart. Instead of ACTA, then, we debated on copyright reform.

This trend continued throughout all university-organised ACTA debates. This way, a bit by luck, a discussion on a dearly-needed copyright reform started in Poland. And this time, the government appears to take active part in it.