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Songs on the Security of Networks
a blog by Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Automagic re-publishing from Twitter to StatusNet

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

For a while now I see a serious problem in the fact that many Free Software advocates, privacy activists, human rights defenders and generally important players in this technical-slash-fundamental-rights Internet community publish their short bursts of brilliance only on Twitter.

It’s problematic, because Twitter is a closed, proprietary and – most importantly – centralised social network that has even agreed to censor tweets under certain circumstances, and while I do applaud their policy of generally standing up for the user, I cannot in good conscience say it’s a good solution for us hacktivists (because things like these are the more likely to happen the more users use Twitter).

Now, I am painfully aware that getting all the cool kids to migrate from Twitter to a more libre and decentralised StatusNet-based services (like Identi.ca or Telecomix’s instance) is a pipe dream, at least for the time being – and while I would love to see that happening, I am not going to go taliban on that. Instead, I would like to focus on making StatusNet-based services more usable for Joe User.

And that means tackling the…

Network Effect

One of the main Joe’s hurdles with those libre microblogging sites is that, well, not many people are there. I do not completely agree with that (i.e. there is no [@rms](https://identi.ca/rms) on Twitter), but I do see the problem.

It’s called the “network effect”. What it means is that, as far as communication networks/means are concerned, the more people use a given service, the more incentivised are other people to join it. That’s actually quite obvious – you want to use a communication medium that lets you, well, communicate with as many people as possible; hence you usually choose the one that has the most of your friends or people you’d like to hear from and talk to.

Problem here is that while users of different StatusNet instances can engage each other, as this de-centralised service (just like e-mail) allows different servers to communicate, Twitter is incompatible with them while still being the largest microblogging site today. This means that even if somebody wants to go libre and set-up a StatusNet account somewhere, they quickly find they still need Twitter to follow many of the people they are interested in following.

Of course, I don’t stand a chance in hell of convincing [@BillGates](http://twitter.com/BillGates) to set-up a libre StatusNet account (not that I miss him dearly on the libre side of microblogging), but us hacktivists and human rights champions should know better, right?

The Plea

So here’s my plea: at least do not reinforce the network effect by publishing solely on Twitter. This is the least you can do and you don’t even need to go through hoops and loops, e.g. by publishing by hand on many different services or using a third party to do it for you – you can get the software to do just that. All you need is a StatusNet account.

It costs nothing; it doesn’t compromise your account in any way (as it doesn’t even give the StatusNet instance any write-access to your Twitter account); it helps people move from centralised service to a de-centralised one; it circumvents Twitter’s own geography-based censorship (once it’s on StatusNet, it’s not under Twitter’s control); and it gives access to your tweets to people that made a conscious decision to steer clear of corporate-owned, centralised communication platforms. What’s not to love!

Here’s what you do.

The How To

Turns out Twitter provides RSS feeds for each user timeline under the address:
https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/USERNAME.rss
where USERNAME is the Twitter handle; for instance, here’s @ioerror’s: https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/ioerror.rss.

StatusNet, on the other hand, can use RSS feeds as sources. That means you can tell your StatusNet (i.e. Identi.ca) account to publish whatever gets published on your Twitter account, automatically.

You can do that in your StatusNet service account settings. After logging-in to the web-interface of your StatusNet service of choice, go to Settings -> Mirroring, click “RSS or Atom feed”, paste your Twitter timeline RSS feed and click “Add feed”. Make sure that “Mirroring style” is “Repost the content under my account”.

That’s it. You are no longer an obstacle on the way to de-centralisation. Kudos.

TPSA/Orange and GIMP, or a word on 5 users

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Some might remember how a few years ago biggest Polish ISP mistakenly blocked GIMP’s website for their users.

Today I took part in a meeting on net neutrality, content blocking and privacy, within the framework of workshops run by Polish Ministry of Administration and Digitalization. The topic of informing on blocks engaged by the ISPs to protect their networks came up, obviously the ISPs are fighting tooth and nail against that.

I reminded the representatives present about how Telekomunikacja Polska (now owned by Orange) blocked GIMP’s website, and how such an information would be instrumental for server’s admins to solve the problem on their side or at least know what’s going on.

As a reply, Mr Tomasz Piłat, Orange rep, said the following:

And all 5 GIMP users were outraged

After which another Orange rep requested “some respect” towards their company.

Perfect ToDo-oid

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

UPDATE: the first version is now published on KDE-Look, enjoy.

Okay, so I have finally decided to write my first Plasmoid – you know, the KDE Plasma widget. No, I haven’t written it, yet. Yes, I know what I am going to write:
the best damn to-do list under the friggin’ sun!

So, what my ideal ToDo list will do? Basically, I am going to insolently rip-off BasKet Note Pads. Do you know BasKet? Well, you should. Best note-taking app I know.

More accurately, though, the minimal functionality would be:

  • one-click tasks adding, a’la my current ToDo handler Task Timer;
  • one-click starting/stopping timing of tasks, again inspired by Task Timer;
  • task grouping/subtasks, as with notes in BasKet;
  • drag-and-drop task ordering, including within groups;
  • one-click deletion/marking as done, for efficiency all around.

After implementing that I will consider also:

  • CalDAV/iCAL/vCAL sync with my calendars, for added joy;
  • ability to connect to BasKet, because sometimes the full app would be much more convenient;
  • tags, categories, including visual clues, so that a single glance of the plasmoid would pass all the needed info.

Obviously, I am still thinking what else could be done with that. Comments welcome, as always.

Subjectively on Anti-ACTA in Poland

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

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.

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.

On copyright in Budapest

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Thanks to Asimov Foundation and the great people from the Budapest Hackerspace I had the chance to participate – along with a small Polish copyright reform dream-team – in the V4 Paradigm Shift in Copyright workshop.

All in all, two days of heavy thinking on copyright reform with a group of people from all of the Visegrad Four countries.

In my humble opinion the most important result of the workshop was meeting all the people away from keyboard, in real life, and getting a birds-eye view on copyright situation in all the V4 countries. We did not dream of finding the perfect solution to copyright problems in digital era just yet; we did, however, verify and reality-check our respective ideas against situation in the rest of the countries, and the ideas of the rest of the activists.

One very important thing is that we all agreed we need to work on the language. Currently the discussion around copyright continues to use a language imposed by one of the sides. This does not bode well for the ability to find good solutions, as it slants the playing field in one direction.

Hence, we have started to create a very rudimentary dictionary.

The most crucial thing here is the fact that “intellectual property” term is completely unacceptable. Neither anything it supposedly describes is bona fide “property” (being in fact time-limited monopolies), nor does lumping them together make any sense. Simply put, copyright, trademark laws and patents are completely different and should be treated separately in discussions. Trying to talk about them together only complicates things and blurs the situation (no doubt, an effect welcomed by the proponents of the term).


An additional important positive result of taking part in the thing was for me the possibility to finally talk a bit with Amelia Andersdotter. Brain-scratching discussion on how privatisation of infrastructure creates new problems for those striving to uphold personal rights and freedoms in the Internet. I will probably get back to this topic.

Learning to Internet

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

The Internet is a very young invention – its precursor, ARPANET, was created in the early 70s. Most of Internet phenomena we partake in and tools we use are much younger. First social networks, for example, were created in the nineties, however the boom for the came only in the first decade of the 21st century.

That means, basically, that we do not know how to use them. Simply put, we had no time to learn.

People, naturally, are trying to work in the new reality, in new situations, with new technology by analogy to situations and technologies they know. Only after such practical attempts (often lasting for years) does the understanding of how the new tool differs from the old and well known ones arise. And with that – new regulations, new customs ordering up the use of such new technology.

Car Analogy

When first “automobiles” showed up, they were treated more or less as carriages, a technology known for ages. It soon, however, turned out that cars are much faster and hence much more dangerous; this lead to new customs and laws, and a whole new culture of using cars, that accounted for the “otherness” of this new tool and new reality.

At first, part of the regulations was absurd. For instance, red flag laws stating that each “mechanical carriage” should be preceded by a person with a flag or lantern, warning about machine’s approach. With time, though, people learned how to use cars, and how to regulate its use – and the new tool gradually stopped being new.

Finally, the tool became familiar, cars are now an ordinary part of everyday life; we all more or less know and understand the rules – like having to look around while crossing the street or using seatbelts while in a car. Some of such rules entered common knowledge and customs; some were made into laws. In general we all know how to behave in a world with cars – something our grandparents knew not.

Information Superhighway

With Internet, social media and the rest of the information technologies (called quite recently – unsurprisingly – “new technologies”), we are in a similar situation to our forefathers in the first years of motorisation. The technology changed, and it changed our reality. We do not know and are unable to foresee all consequences of our actions in the virtual space. Rules, the culture of using the Internet and laws pertaining to it – are only being created.

In many ways our situation is actually much worse. Technology changes much faster than these few decades ago; this means that it’s much harder to catch up with cultural changes, with customs and regulations. It gets even worse: possible ill effects of our inability to foresee all consequences of certain actions are significantly delayed and not as spectacular, as consequences of not noticing a car approaching (although not always).

Hence, it’s harder for us to notice such ill effects, take them into account and verify or change our customs, our internet hygiene. If consequences of my bad decision turn out only 5 years from now on some job interview I fail due to some pictures from a party, published 2 years ago – during these 7 years I am unaware of the fact that putting those pictures on-line was a mistake. And there is a huge chance I will make this mistake many, many times during this time.

Not only does the technology change faster than ever, we are reacting to those changes (through making changes to our customs, culture, laws) slower than before. This is extremely dangerous – but we will make notice of it 5 or 10 years from now, when today’s teens will be trying to get their first jobs, while their prospective employers will verify them with the help from Uncle Google and Big Brother Facebook.

Red flags

This is precisely the reason why some organisations and people (including myself) are warning about giving up privacy (of which citizens are not always aware), about giving our personal data and private communication away to corporations and centralized networks.

It is, of course, possible that we are overreacting – like the proponents of “red flag” laws. However, it is often better to be a bit overcautious – so that we’re not all engulfed in technocomplacency and blind fascination over new technologies.

Brussels Safari #1 - EP press conference and ITRE

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Long story short, I have been invited by La Quadrature to Brussels in order to help performing a “lobbytomy” concerning ACTA in the Europarliament. A write-up on all the great hacktivism fun we are having will come later, now I want to document the srs bsns stuff.

There were several ACTA-related events planned for this week, hence the idea to come down here and try to influence the MEPs.

At this point we have already been to two of the events:

  • the press conference by ACTA rapporteur and shadow rapporteur;
  • ITRE Committee meeting, with ACTA in the agenda.

Here’s a short summary for both.

The Conference

It was fairly interesting and not bad at all. The rapporteurs said that:

The “interim report” thing, while a good sign, is not as important as it sounds and as far as I understand will not be binding in any way to the EP. It’s not a part of any procedure, it’s more of a kind of an initiative by the rapporteur.

Referring ACTA to ECJ by Europarliament separately from the European Commission is an interesting move; however, we do not know if it is actually possible for two different referrals to be presented to the ECJ – and even if in fact it is, it might be so that there is only a single question possible to ask: “is ACTA compatible with the acquis and the treaties”. Hence, if the Commission asks it already (framing it in a way favourable to ACTA), it might not be possible to ask it again by the EP.

Either way, the right question to ask seems to be:

Can ACTA be interpreted and implemented in an abusive way that would be incompatible with the acquis and the treaties?

And the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”.

ITRE Committee meeting

ACTA was only a single part of the agenda, but visibly it was the most important one (many people left after it has been discussed).

This meeting has been summarized very well by La Quadrature, it’s definitely worth a read. I will just add a bit to it from my perspective.

First of all, the arguments against the treaty were multiple and much stronger in their substance than arguments for. Human rights and the threat of censorship (well described by our Polish MEP, Mr Gróbarczyk, with whom I had the pleasure of talking just 2 hours before on this very topic); threat to privacy and personal data; hinderance to businesses and stiffling innovation; finally – whether the treaty is useful at all, and the non-transparent, undemocratic process of the treaty’s creation.

There were, however, two voices defending ACTA: one, obviously, from a representative of the European Commission, invited to the meeting; the other from Daniel Caspary, a German MEP and a member of the ITRA Committee itself.

And, at least to me, they actually sounded a bit desperate. Their main strategy seemed to be spreading FUD.

Calm the discussion

The very first argument that was called upon was, in fact, the need to calm the discussion down, with a strong hint that it should be gentlemen and experts talking about it, not the general populace.

This is preposterous: for years ACTA process was not transparent and undemocratic, on closed meetings and private sessions of such “gentlemen and experts” that did not even have the common decency to invite representatives of people they were trying to legislate around.

Now, suddenly, when the streets and nations spoke their minds and completely disavowed this treaty, along with the secrecy of the process, ACTA proponents call for “calming down” of the discussion. As if any dissent, any opinions against it – in fact, any opinion of The People – were fearmongering and factiousness.

Nothing changes

As before, it has been claimed that ACTA does not change anything. This is not true – and even if it were, why sign it, then?

It’s all about access to justice

The second absolutely preposterous argument – ACTA is not about copyright, it’s about access to justice. As if huge media corporations that would be the main beneficiaries of ACTA, need better access to justice, or in fact understand what “justice” means.

Car parts and safety

Over 70% of car parts sold in one of the European countries are counterfeit, and that is a serious security concern – and ACTA is supposed to fight that.

First of all, there was no definition of a counterfeit car part. Secondly, while there was a survey on the amount of “counterfeit” parts sold cited, neither the year, country, title nor authors were given.

Not to mention that absolutely no proof on existence the supposed “security risks” associated by that (or the extent of those risks) was offered.

Balance

Yet again the argument of “balance” was brought forth:

We must strike a balance between fundamental rights: freedom of speech, freedom from censorship and intellectual property laws

Obviously, this is a sly and ill-meant purely rhetoric argument – because intellectual property laws, especially when not concerning people but business entities, are clearly and definitely not “fundamental rights”.

Climate package

Finally, an attempt to counter the “China and India did not sign, so ACTA will not work anyway” argument was made, in the form of a question why didn’t people bring this argument up against the Kyoto protocol.

Fact is that ACTA and Kyoto protocol are very different things, concerning completely different areas. While the latter can actually achieve its aims even with incomplete list of signatories (because even so, the emissions will be lower), the former cannot – as any party that is not bound by its provision will undermine the whole construct.

Because ACTA is passé

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an Open debate on ACTA, held at the University of Silesia in Katowice. Among many distinguished guests (including the Polish Ombudsman, representatives of NGOs and ZAiKS) a member of the Polish parliament, Mr Andrzej Gałażewski earned a special mention – and an award for the best quotes of the day, hands down.

I think all the participants were surprised with Mr Gałażewski’s defence of ACTA signing decision, taking the form of a claim that no negative signals about the treaty surfaced before the decision was made. After a quick reply to this misconception by Robert Partyka of the Polish Linux User Group, Mr Gałażewski commented:

Outside arguments that reach us impact our decisions only when they are suitably intellectually packaged

Apparently, substantial arguments submitted by NGOs against ACTA were not “suitably intellectually packaged”. As we all know, what had impact on the decision were the protests. We also know the slogans used during those protests – so we have some examples of what, in fact, is a “suitably intellectually packaged” argument. And thanks to a member of the Polish parliament, no less!

That, however, is not all! When talking about the future of ACTA, Mr Gałażewski remarked that at this point "this agreement is passé", and asked directly how is he planning to vote when (if?) the ratification vote comes to the Polish parliament, he replied:

We are not going to commit political suicide

Well, at least it’s all in the clear now! I mean, how the politicians make their decisions. That substantial, on-topic arguments are not the best way to influence such decisions (they are not “suitably intellectually packaged”), was public knowledge for a long time. That many politicians are political opportunists is also not that surprising.

It is, though, great to know that, besides opportunism, there are some additional criteria – even if it’s just fashion.

Privacy of correspondence, EU-style

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

When, in Poland, new Internet filtering and censorship ideas came about, one of the arguments used against such schemes was that it violates the principle of secrecy of correspondence, guaranteed by the 12th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 49th Article of the Polish Constitution.

While it was usually quite hard to convince the proponents of net censorship that this is precisely that – censorship and a violation of this important freedom – nobody questioned that in the regular, physical variety such actions are completely unacceptable, unheard of in a Free Country, and remind of the times rightfully gone by.

This, however, might change soon – European Union decided it’s more important to defend “intellectual property” than human rights and freedoms. According to new EU regulation being drafted, customs will gain powers to open small packages coming from outside the EU (but addressed to EU citizens) and destroy their contents once materials infringing IP rights have been found.

That was definitely not what I meant when I wrote that the same basic principles should be upheld in the Internet as in the AFK

Polish PM on ACTA: I was wrong

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

First, I must say I was totally flabbergasted by today’s statement by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, concerning the change of heart the Government had in the topic of ACTA. And I am not the only one. Nothing suggested that during the last weeks.

However, the more surprising, the more welcome it is.

From what I gather what has been said, and maybe more importantly HOW it has been said, is a clear indication that Poland will not, in fact, ratify ACTA and is clearly opposed to it on the EU-level. This is extremely important and a clear success in anti-ACTA fight.

The PM could send ACTA to ratification in Poland now in order to throw it out quickly here; but he already said a week ago they are “halting” the ratification process in Poland, so he’s in a tight spot with that and in some sense he cannot do that at this time, politically. I can understand and respect that, providing that other concrete actions (sending ACTA to CJEU?) will follow during the next few days.

No info on the retraction of the Polish signature. This is interesting, but I cannot comment on that, I am not a lawyer. Maybe the Government decided it’s more important to focus on Europarliament rejection of the treaty? This could make sense.

All in all, we (the NGOs) are very pleasantly surprised with that move and we are definitely supportive of it. However, that’s just a start of two long processes:

  • throwing ACTA out in EU;
  • global debate on (much needed) intellectual property rights reform.

Both of those themes were present in what Tusk said and it is a very positive and welcome sign of goodwill, and possibly a good start to rebuilding trust, lost on this fateful day of January the 19th.