Poland: thousands march against surveillance law

Thousands of people in Poland on Jan. 23 protested the government's planned changes to the legal code that would increase its surveillance over Polish citizens. The proposed changes to the law, initiated by the ruling Law and Justice Party, would expand the government's power to access digital data and loosen restrictions of using surveillance in law enforcement. The Law and Justice Party has been making moves to gain more control over the judiciary since it took office in November. The European Union has taken notice, launching an investigation into allegations that the Polish government is undermining democratic principles. If Poland were to be found guilty of these allegations, the country would lose voting rights in the EU for a specified period of time.

Surveillance and data collection have been worldwide topics of discussion, particularly after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013. Earlier this month US-based tech companies Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo submitted evidence of possible conflicts that may arise from the UK government's proposed Investigatory Powers Bill, noting that the bulk data collections required by the bill will have an international impact. In October, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to halt the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA. In August the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a ruling that had blocked the NSA from obtaining call detail records from US citizens.

From Jurist, Jan. 24. Used with permission.