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February 09 2012

17:08

ACTA -- European Protests + Poland's Update

 


Two weeks ago, after the first hactivists’ attacks hit the Polish government website and the first protests spread through the country, I blogged about how Polish people opposed the ACTA bill. I’d love to provide you with an update now, since I am happy to say -- things are happening.

 

On 3 February 2012, Poland announced it halted the ratification process as it "had made insufficient consultations before signing the agreement in late January, and it was necessary to ensure it was entirely safe for Polish citizens." Last Saturday a meeting with the Ombudsman re ACTA in the historical venue of the Gdańsk Shipyard took place. At the same time, a weekend “improvised” congress for the ACTA opponents started in Warsaw -- it was organized by the Polish NGO community at the Polytechnics University. Polish Minister for Digitalization, Michał Boni who has recently become a very busy man, was present at both of these meetings, as well as at the third, most important one, that took place yesterday, in the chancellery of the Polish Prime Minister, Daniel Tusk. The latter meeting took 7 hours, and was video streamed as well as live-tweeted and commented in the real time (#debataACTA). The meeting hosted by the Polish MP was the closest we got to a public consultation that were so far overlooked in the entire ACTA process timeline. Some, especially the participants of the last weekend congress, who officially chose not to attend the meeting, are not satisfied though. 

 

The primary demand of the protesters is for the prime minister to rescind ACTA, which is an action permissible by the law, they would also like to see ACTA being voted for in the general referendum. The Prime Minister on the other hand, declares that the signature will not be removed. However, the parliament voting over ACTA (in place to ratify -- or not -- the bill) will be on hold until the doubts surrounding this bill-to-be would not be cleared out.

 

Everyone seems to be surprised: the Polish prime minister has never seen such a quick, mass and well-organized resistance movement against any of the previous controversial political steps he took. “The people” united in the anti-ACTA movement (that could be easily called the Polish  occupy/indignants movement supporters) on the other hand, feel unexpectedly empowered -- their voices have been heard. 

 

Nevertheless, to hear one another and acknowledge the existence of another point of view is not enough. The yesterday’s seven hours debate showed very clearly that even though we pretend to listen, there is no real communication involved. I am very much looking forward to the further developments, as the general European protests against ACTA are coming up this weekend. What I hope for is for Poland as well as other 22 European Union countries to unsign the document, and for the remaining members Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Netherlands and Slovakia to block their internal signing procedures after completion of their respective domestic procedures. I hope that European Union will not sign ACTA in its current form. I hope for the real public consultations to take place, and to become an obligatory (and logical!) step on a way to ratify this and every bill.  

 

Stay tuned!

 

January 23 2012

16:06

2012 Look Ahead. SOPA and ACTA Are a Big Deal

 

This post opens a January mini blog post series devoted to 2012 social tech trends. Even though old divisions (when it comes to time, as well as geography) are of less and less appliance in the modern (tech) world, 2012 already seems to be critical for various tech-driven decisions of global importance. 

In a series of posts this week, we will be exploring the near future of web design, as well as the mobile trends; we will also call out a few #protips for going greener technology-wise. 

This post was supposed to be, only and as much as, an invitation for staying tuned to our Net2 channels, and taking part in discussions around emerging nptech trends. However, the recent SOPA and ACTA developments brought yet another thing to our attention. 

Both regulations address the intellectual property issues, and are considered a threat to the freedom in the Internet (freedom of access, and freedom of speech). I will not go into the details of SOPA and ACTA here. Instead, I would like to look at the social response to the proposed regulations. For these interested, I provide additional links to reliable information sources on the topic on the bottom of the post.

 

The Power Of Feedback

Last week in the US was marked with a series of websites blackouts -- a widely spread digital protest joined by many local and international and local domains. By blacking out the Internet US citizens 2.0 provided their authorities with a feedback of a strength and reach never seen before.

On the same week that the Internet went black in the US, the Polish government announced that on January the 26th it will sign the international ACTA agreement. For the past three years ACTA has been negotiated in secret by 39 countries, some of them (including the US) already signed the regulation. Civil society, developing countries, as well as the Internet users has been excluded from the conversation, as they were in the case of SOPA.

Hactivism -- Tweet by Tweet

In response to the Polish government declaration, an online community of hackers via their Twitter profile (AnonymousWiki) called to action: “POLAND NEEDS A REVOLUTION. Government signing on the 26th!”. By 2:00 AM many government and public institutions’ sites got blocked and blacked out. The protest included a popular prime minister’s daughter blog on fashion and make up. Instead of the usual lipstick & hairstyle photos the site would reveal a note: “Tell Your Dad He Won’t Win With Us. Stop ACTA” ("Powiedz Tacie, że z nami nie wygra. STOP ACTA") -- check out the print screen image on the right.

Anonynmous called hacktivists to put the protests on hold until the Minster of Administration and Digitization, Michał Boni, speaks to the prime minister. Due to the protests the meeting has been scheduled for today (Monday, Jan the 23rd). It is very likely that the rapid online response to the threat of signing ACTA without any serious social consultations will block the process for the time being. 

 

A Big Deal

I wanted to write about SOPA and ACTA protests in the context of the 2012 Look Ahead, because it speaks to a very important global trend. It has been said during the Arab Spring, that Social Media gave Arab people the voice, and empowered them to act. It seems to me that SOPA and ACTA are a somewhat similar case. As the opponents of the acts claim, governments and corporations have been systematically limiting people’s freedom, and despite numerous protests have often remained unpunished. The last month has shown that citizens 2.0 have tools and motivation to feedback government actions, and to fight back at these they find oppressive.

It Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The question of methods, as applicable to radical activists’ and (h)activists’ initiatives, constitute a problem here: how should we fight back, and what will be considered crossing the line? Does the immorality of one side justify the attacks of the other? And finally: what does the democratic potential of the Internet really translate into?

These questions are the ones to ask now, and during the following months. I won’t say that 2012 will bring all the answers, but will definitely force us into taking a stand.

---------

By bringing up the challenges of transparency and democracy we kicked off the 2012 blog series from the very top -- meta level -- of the tech pyramid.  Tech driven reality has many layers, and we will be diving right into them during the next couple of days. Tomorrow, we will look at  the 2012 trends in web design. Stay with us! Important trends we are missing in our little 2012 Look Ahead Series? Share yours -- we will welcome all your adds.

 

Learn More

 

 

 

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