Thousands of Poles march against the possibility of Internet censorship

Jan 27, 2012
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Last week, it was SOPA and a blacked-out Wikipedia, amid a wave of Internet protests against controversial U.S. legislation to stop online piracy. This week, the acronym is ACTA, with more than 10,000 people marching in the streets of Poland’s cities against an anti-counterfeiting treaty that they say will lead to Internet censorship.

Photo by Alexey Sidorenko.

The BBC reports that the protesters called on Warsaw not to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on 26 January, in spite of the decision of countries such as the United States and Japan to endorse the document. While ACTA supporters say the treaty will enforce intellectual property rights and protect the entertainment and other industries, opponents worry that the efforts to restrict copyright infringement could lead to de facto censorship.

Over the past weekend, citing the debate over ACTA, hackers attacked Polish government websites, slowing down access or completely taking them down. In response, government spokesman Pawel Gras said the troubles were “just the result of huge interest in the sites of the prime minister and parliament,” a statement that led to jeers on Polish social networks, the BBC reports. Earlier this week, in other protests, young Poles taped their mouths shut outside of a European Union office and some popular websites posted a statement about ACTA instead of their normal content.

Although Prime Minister Donald Tusk called a special meeting to deal with the situation, he said Poland would still sign the treaty. “There will be no concessions to brutal blackmail,” Tusk told journalists, according to The Associated Press.

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Transitions Online

Transitions Online ( is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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