Polish Internet Users Against the Censorship of the Net

[ Thursday, 21 January 2010, michuk ]


Polish government wants to enforce Internet filtering to eliminate online gambling and child pornography. Everything for the benefit of our children, as this is the argument which is hard to stay against.

However, a notable group of Polish lawyers, journalists, academics, enterpreneurs, politicians and bloggers think otherwise and signed a letter (written by myself, btw) to President of Poland, Lech Kaczy?ski, asking him to turn the law down (in Polish legal system, president has the right to do this, but the parliament can then overcome president’s opposition if 2/3 of the delegates vote for it).

Here is the translation of the letter:

Dear Mr President!

We are addressing You to raise issue crucial for every Polish citizen using Internet. By pushing ahead so called ‘Anti-Gambling Law’ government of Donald Tusk is proposing, in the name of fight against gambling, to claim the right for filtering of all content available on-line. The Art.179a of Telecommunication Law, introducing ‘Registry of Banned Websites and Services’ is supposed to allow that.

It is a very dangerous idea which contradicts the interest of citizens. The statement that Internet should be governed by the same law as that referring to any other part of public space might be valid, however realisation of the above postulate has nothing to do with the constitutional right to freedom of expression. The planned changes in law are simply new way of censorship, very well known to You from previous system. Similar regulations allowing governments unrestricted filtering of content available for citizens are currently in place only in few countries of the world. Amongst those You will find for instance Iran and China. Do we really want Poland to join them?

Internet is a public space enabling expression and exchange of opinions. Thus the top to down filtering of Internet can be only compared to closing citizens mouths before they even start to speak up. It is something that even George Orwell did not imagine in his famous novel “1984″ about vision of totalitarian state.

What can be done towards following the law on the Internet then? Exactly the same as in case of breach of law related to rights of fellow citizens! Those who brake the law need to be simply prosecuted. If a website contains materials banned by law (including treacherous child pornography or content promoting Nazism or hate), we have appropriate mechanisms in place to punish those who are responsible for them. It is more difficult then the top to down filtering, as it requires separate analysis of each case. However does it mean, that for this very reason we should sacrifice our freedom of speech?

In May on the website stopcenzurze.wikidot.com we have collected 75.000 confirmed signatures against possibility of Internet censorship in European Union. No one really expected at that point of time that similar problem might occur in our own homeland.

We hope that having in consideration freedom as major value in a democratic state, You will decide to veto this disadvantageous for citizens proposal.

With regards,

Borys Musielak, creator of Grupa Jakilinux, author of this letter

And the undersigned [list of Polish lawyers, journalists, academics, enterpreneurs, politicians and bloggers here]

(big thanks to Sylwia Presley for the translation!)

Everyone is welcome to sign the petition opposing net neutrality violating law. We already have 75 thousands of signatures and counting!

You can also join the “Stop Cenzurze” group on Facebook to show your stance.

It’s a very important moment for Polish Internet users and for the whole European Union as Poland would be the first country after the passing of the Telekom Package that actually uses the opportunity to censor the Internet. The only other nation in Europe (not EU though) that has similar law is totalitarian Belarus.

Borys Musielak
E-mail: borys@musielak.eu
Phone: +447972761605 (UK mobile)


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29 Comments

fold this thread Hayden Young  Saturday, 23 January 2010 o godz. 7:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  error

Politicians can make an easy one-sided argument out of this, whipping the mob into a frenzy over the prospect that every child will become a victim and every adult a perpetrator of paedophilia.

The truth is that censoring the internet will do nothing but erode our democratic rights and exonerate the politicians of their real job; to enforce the law against those who create this material and carry out these crimes. After all, it’s much easier to crack down on the populace that go after the real culprits.

We are experiencing the same internet censorship here in Australia; a country apparently at the forefront of free speech and thought for more than 100 years, but with politicians who are more than willing to pander to the lowest common denominator than face this problem head-on.

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fold this thread Dann  Sunday, 24 January 2010 o godz. 12:14 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Politicians will say anything to validate their ideals.

Why don’t they take away all our freedoms for the ‘sake of our children’? 100% effectiveness right?

I don’t mean to rain on the parade of those who valiantly fight for the rights of children and those who cannot fight for themselves, but it doesn’t matter what legislation is put in place, criminals will find some way to overcome it. There’s a point where the results do not justify the means, and even though I am not a polish citizen, I feel this is one case that does not do justice.

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fold this thread consistency  Tuesday, 26 January 2010 o godz. 2:27 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“Those who brake the law need to be simply prosecuted. If a website contains materials banned by law (including treacherous child pornography or content promoting Nazism or hate), we have appropriate mechanisms in place to punish those who are responsible for them.”

I’m not sure how you are being consistent. Surely if you believe in freedom of expression you believe people should be allowed to “promote hate”, whatever that propagandist phrase means. Surely we should allow all points of view, even the most ludicrous, to be heard and hope that sense will prevail.

(I do agree with you on the argument against child pornography though.)

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fold this thread michuk  Wednesday, 27 January 2010 o godz. 9:33 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

There are limits to freedom and the limit is easy to spot – if you are hurting others, it’s not free speech anymore, it’s breaking the law (assuming you live in a country of law). Don’t tell me child pornography should be allowed in order to keep up with the fredom of speech. This is ridiculous.

fold this thread Jane Savoie  Tuesday, 29 March 2011 o godz. 4:59 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I absolutely agree with Michuk, there are limits and child pornograghy goes wayyy beyond those limits

All too often people will determine freedom of speech encompasses anything you chhose to say… this simply is not the case, and child pornograhy should never be tolerated in any society… period

 
fold this thread Ella Malcolmson  Friday, 1 April 2011 o godz. 2:10 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“There are limits to freedom and the limit is easy to spot – if you are hurting others, it’s not free speech anymore, it’s breaking the law”

I totally agree, Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship.

Ella Malcolmson
Colorado Springs, CO
24 Hour Locksmith Colorado Springs

fold this thread William Paine  Tuesday, 12 April 2011 o godz. 11:13 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

We’ve got the same concerns here in New Zealand, where the government is considering bringing in filtering and tracking of internet access.

In fact it is said by some that we already have it, but it has just been kept extremely quiet. No kidding as it will be seriously unpopular.

Not in the same league as pornography, but there was also a recent attempt to make the ISPs cut off people they suspected of pirating music. Forcing the ISPs to do the policing, not the police!

“What can be done towards following the law on the Internet then? Exactly the same as in case of breach of law related to rights of fellow citizens! Those who brake the law need to be simply prosecuted. If a website contains materials banned by law (including treacherous child pornography or content promoting Nazism or hate), we have appropriate mechanisms in place to punish those who are responsible for them.”

This – I totally agree with. The mechanisms are already in place.

Cheers
William Paine

 
fold this thread broda  Thursday, 14 April 2011 o godz. 7:36 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

they do that only for money, not for childs

 
 
 
 
fold this thread consistency  Wednesday, 27 January 2010 o godz. 11:59 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

“There are limits to freedom and the limit is easy to spot – if you are hurting others,”

“There are” or “There should be”? And no, it’s not easy to spot. What does “hurting others” mean? If you hurt someone’s feelings, does that count? Why are you happy for the arguments that people can lawfully advocate to be curtailed, even if they do “promote hate”? Isn’t “hate” against a corrupt murderous politician not potentially a good thing to promote? Who decides what is acceptable and what isn’t – those in power? Why don’t you just back off and let people advocate whatever they like, whether it’s nazism or some other horrendous point of view and let common sense prevail

“it’s not free speech anymore, it’s breaking the law (assuming you live in a country of law).”

This is not a good argument – we are discussing what laws _ought_ to be, not what they are. If you have an absurd law, I sympathise with those who break it.

“Don’t tell me child pornography should be allowed in order to keep up with the fredom of speech.”

?! I didn’t say that. I said I agreed with you on that point.

“This is ridiculous.”

Ad hominem argument… how powerful.

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fold this thread Anon  Friday, 12 February 2010 o godz. 12:31 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Censorship of child pornography is a slippery slope issue. It allows censorship to start (for a very good reason); the problem is where it ends.

If you can reliably identify the site or pictures that need to be censored, then you can track down the criminals. One associated problem is that what constitutes criminal behavior differs from country to country.

Maybe we should talk about what the right solution is rather than against the wrong one. I believe that stronger international laws need to exist and be enforceable.

Another solution that is being now tried in America, is for the victims to sue the holders of the images (presumably after a state arrest – tort burden of proof is lower than criminal burden of proof). The states cannot take all of your money away, but the tort system can. I understand that this is twisted, but whatever works.

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fold this thread Jocelyn Peterson  Friday, 7 May 2010 o godz. 2:11 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Online Gambling is sometimes very addictive, a couple of years ago i lot a thousand bucks in online poker.;:

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fold this thread Jamal  Wednesday, 12 May 2010 o godz. 10:24 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

Internet filtering at ISP level already takes place in the UK and it does not work.

Making legal child porn makes more sense than filtering it out.

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fold this thread Molecule  Tuesday, 10 August 2010 o godz. 4:08 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

ISP filtering doesn’t work. We get that. But legalising child porn is just despicable – it legitimises child abuse and pedophilia. The answer is NO.

 
 
fold this thread Stephen Conroy  Tuesday, 10 August 2010 o godz. 4:05 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Stephen Conroy

You are so blacklisted.

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fold this thread Charls  Thursday, 3 February 2011 o godz. 5:08 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Using a VPN to protect your privacy and give you unlimited access to every page. Internet Censorship was yesterday. This might be the only solution against internet censorship.
I want to let you know that there is currently running a Free Give Away of Premium VPN Accounts from several providers on this page: http://www.Leechermods.com/search?q=vpn
Chances are high to catch an account for free for everyone.

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fold this thread ukash  Saturday, 5 February 2011 o godz. 11:56 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

hello

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fold this thread Ida R. Hurt  Thursday, 31 March 2011 o godz. 9:20 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“Using a VPN to protect your privacy and give you unlimited access to every page.”

I agree with Charls, you can just use VPN and you will no longer deal with this issue of privacy.

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fold this thread R. Cristi  Friday, 1 April 2011 o godz. 12:21 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

I would not want my children exposed to child pornography or sinful pleasures. They need a comfortable setting with their family and a strong based form of knowledge against it.

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fold this thread David Brown  Sunday, 3 April 2011 o godz. 8:03 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

It is interesting to note the differences in cultures and the effects that these have on the lives of individuals. It is something to be experienced, if you can and we are fortunate that with our private and business interests that travel is a major part of what we do with our website http://www.mycover.com.au and through this activity we have had the good fortune to visit many countries and expand our knowledge. We have through our travel met many new friends and by keeping in contact we have been able to gain further knowledge and understanding of what is a very complex subject. It is a credit to all who have the opportunity to travel worldwide that there is within this a group of dedicated individuals who can take causes to heart and help those who are most at need. I always look for new ideas when looking at the various ways I can encourage our developers to improve the sites I am involved in managing such as MyCover for example. Please feel free to visit the site and offer me your comments. It is through the genuine interchange of information, particularly of a technical nature, that quality is improved.

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fold this thread Jim  Friday, 8 April 2011 o godz. 3:34 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“I would not want my children exposed to child pornography or sinful pleasures. They need a comfortable setting with their family and a strong based form of knowledge against it.” Who the hell is talking about child porn ???? The internet is pretty much cleared of this now sure if you know where to look i guess you can find anything but you cannot just stumble accross child porn or extream violence now you really have to look for it !
Thanks James

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fold this thread Ed Ward  Sunday, 10 April 2011 o godz. 3:21 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Here’s what I learned from my mentor. It’s no longer your right if you stepped on other person’s right. Hopefully, the government hears our pleas.

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fold this thread Joey Herb  Sunday, 10 April 2011 o godz. 9:48 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

This is a serious matter, every single parent should engage themselves to this kind of movement. Our world now is dominated by computers, most children learn from the internet and filtering unnecessary and unhealthy contents could help save them in developing unpleasant psychological and behavioral characteristics.

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fold this thread Lavender  Thursday, 14 April 2011 o godz. 4:21 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I am a moderate conservative about many things, but censorship is something that is a cause for great concern. I don’t think the internet should be censored, period.

However, I do think that parents should be actively involved in stewarding what their children have access to online, and there are TONS of filtering services that do exactly that. It is just parental abdication to suggest that the rest of the world should be censored because “you don’t want your children exposed” to something. That’s your job! There are plenty of solutions to the issue, but freedom of choice is not something that should be curtailed for others just because parents are too lazy to put a filtering system on their computers.

We were all children once, and anyone that thinks a really determined child cannot find that one way or another is delusional… whether online or otherwise. However, most children do not know how to cover their tracks when searching or visiting inappropriate websites, so parents should learn how to check search records now and then and see what their kids are doing.

Inviting censorship invites more censorship and that is a slippery slope that we would all eventually regret embracing as a quick and convenient solution that would at some point be used against us all.

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fold this thread Albert Divo  Friday, 22 April 2011 o godz. 5:25 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

If you are certain that you can identify the website that needs to be censored, then you will be able to track down the criminals. You see, censorship of child pornography is not easy. Many question as to where the censorship ends. It varies from country to country. I think that organizations should have stronger international laws enforced. I know this isn’t easy but it’s a good solution.

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fold this thread Chubs of Niacin Cholesterol  Thursday, 5 May 2011 o godz. 7:57 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

This is not an overnight thing, authorities have been wringing in stopping internet crimes and frankly no one has ever made it to the line… There are proxy IP’s now, I can pretend I am from Brazil if I want to and no one will even notice where I’m really at!

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fold this thread Neel Networks  Sunday, 8 May 2011 o godz. 10:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

@chubs of niacin cholesterol

I totally agree with you there are plenty of sites that offers free proxy surfing and free proxy server ip’s which can be used to hide the identity of the surfer using it. It becomes very difficult to trace them down.

Best Regards,
Neel Networks

 
 
fold this thread Immunization Schedule  Monday, 16 May 2011 o godz. 7:49 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Censorship of the Net should be done at the ISP (Internet Service Provider) level rather than at National level. Government should encourage ISP to adopt such approaches. Even though there’s proxy to overcome this “blockage” as long as ISP are willing to do their part, the message of all this censorship is very clear. It is wrong or illegal to gamble or child pornography.

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fold this thread Albenise  Wednesday, 30 May 2012 o godz. 3:46 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

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About the Author

Borys Musielak

PolishLinux.org creator and editor in chief. Professionally -- J2EE consultant in London City. Personally -- free software enthusiast and lobbyist.

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