We have read very interesting and very disturbing report today. Report (with comments) published by PANOPTYKON, Polish non – profit organisation that tries “…to protect human rights, in particular the right to privacy, in the clash with modern technology used for surveillance purposes.” PANOPTYKON foundation is well known in Poland, it was founded in 2009 and since than is one of he main NGO’s “in Polish internet”. If you are Polish we advise you to also read the original text (available here) for all of you who do not know Polish language we will bring you short summary. This will help you understand that even in “free world”,in EU itself (know for its regard for human rights) things like are possible and that no one, should think – it will not happen in my country, it does not concern me.
It is hard to imagine that Polish society is different that any other in the Europe. We simply can not agree to the thesis that “There is more (paedophiles/terrorists/thieves/etc..) criminals than in any other society. Why do we think we can state such a thesis? Well, simply because this would be the only reason to the outcome of such a report. So… lets get back to the main news.
According to Panoptykon, Polish authorities - police, attorney general office and other special services, have asked Polish TSP’s (telecommunication service providers) for data regarding its customers over 1.8 million times, (1.856.888 times to be exact). The only reason for such an amount of data checks in a free and democratic country (if we are to use logic) that in Polish society there is a lot more criminals than in any other. Unless country in question is not that free and not that democratic as everyone thought it is. This is why we want you to know that things like that do happen in broad daylight as none of us would think there is something wrong with freedom in Poland.
The second (after the amount of checks) disturbing news is that in Poland, unlike other countries that claim to be “free and democratic” Police and other authorities can ask (or even access the data base) for those data without any supervision or true reason. Polish telecommunication companies have and obligation to keep the logs of all the electronic connections (gsm, landline, broadband – everything) made by it users. Phone calls you made, phone calls you tried to make, internet browsing history, even search queries you do in search engines. All this data is kept “in case” and authorities like police have force do have free access to it, without even court supervision. Officially this is because of need for public safety but (as Panoptykon sates) it is not properly specified by Polish law, when authorities can ask for such a data. And because of that the get them not when needed but when “some one” in charge feels like it.
To show you the scale of the problem know that such a data is kept everywhere. But in most of the countries it is 6 – 12 months and afterwards those information are overwritten, in Poland however logs are kept for 2 years! Another problem (the lack of supervision of this process) was shown in the recent case concerning surveillance of journalists. Because journalists (with accordance to journalistic secrecy) did not agree to disclose their sources authorities leading investigation simply demanded data (billings) of journalists in question.
All Polish internet users should be concerned about where they are now (regarding their privacy) and where their authorities are leading them. Let the number speaks:
In 2009 Polish authorities asked for such a data approx. 1 million times.
In 2010 the number rose to 1.5 million.
In 2011 it was over 1.8 million times.
And this is all that available statistic shows. Polish citizens do not know exactly who asked for those data, what sort of data (in more detail), when and why (what was the reason in the first place). German police asked for such data 35 times less than polish one (per 1 thousand citizens). In Czech Republic this kind of data can be obtained without court order only when terrorism is concerned. If you are Polish or if you got friends in Poland than you should consider using services like HideIPVPN to improve you privacy.
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