Polish Government under DDoS, Anonymous ACTA up again.

Anonymous are again making headlines, as the majority of Polish government related web sites are taken offline in DDoS attacks over the weekend as a protest about an international agreement perceived as being cooked up in years of secret talks between governments and industry.
As the dust settles and the mutual back-slapping begins over the withdrawal of the SOPA bill in the US, an older and potentially uglier beast has once again reared its head in Europe. This particular beast is called ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and you can certainly be forgiven if you haven’t heard of it before, even though it predates both SOPA and PIPA.
ACTA is what is known as a “plurilateral agreement” aimed at establishing international (not just US) standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. SOPA would have negligible effects outise of the US, but ACTA is a global agreement. It aims to create its own governing body outside of the existing World Trade Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the United Nations. Preliminary talks began as far back as 2006 including Canada, the United States, Japan, the EU and Switzerland. Official negotiations began in 2008 with the addition of Australia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore. Alongside these national government representatives, an advisory body of large US-based corporations was involved, including the RIAA, the MPAA, International Intellectual Property Alliance and Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America.
The negotiations were classified as “Secret” in the US on the grounds that there was a risk of damage to national security. The process by which negotiations took place, without public scrutiny or judicial oversight and the way in which the details of ACTA only emerged as a series of leaks until a draft was eventually published in 201O, after the 8th round of negotiations, has attracted widespread criticism from academics and groups such as the EFF.
The major concerns regarding the actual content of the draft centre around a couple of important issues. Perceived infringement on communications privacy for Internet users, as ISPs are obliged to filter content in more depth as a result of their liability for the actions of their subscribers and an increase in liability for websites that link to copyrighted material (sound familiar?) . There has also been concern that the section dealing with border controls would authorise invasive searches of personal laptops or MP3 players in the search for copyright infringing material. It should be noted that EU legislation prohibits travellers from checks if the offending goods are not a part of “large-scale” traffic and US legislation amply demonstrates that unilateral implementation of invasive border searches is entirely to be expected.
So why Poland, and why today? Well, the government of the Donald Tusk made a surprise announcement ( two PDFs in Polish) on the 19th January that they would be signing ACTA one week later on the 26th, taking them down the road to ratification. Many Poles feel that this has been done without inclusion or open debate and without a mandate from the people. The strength of feeling is immediately visible in Twitter, with thousands of Poles making tweets of thanks to Anonymous for this initial and ongoing action. Even those not actively participating in the DDoS have contributed to the failures of multiple websites by attempting to access them in their browser to see if the site had been taken offline.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the proposed agreement, it is certainly true to say that democracy is never served in secret, where the interests of only one side of the debate are represented. The Polish Minister for Administration and Digitalisation, Michal Boni has asked Prime Minister Donald Tusk to reconsider the decision before signing and a further meeting has been scheduled for the 24th Jan.

One thought on “Polish Government under DDoS, Anonymous ACTA up again.

  1. Marek

    Well, the PM now decided (possibly to demonstrate they don’t bow to threats) that they _will_ sign ACTA after all. At the same time letting his ministers come up with mutually contradictory statements that yes, there was ample consultation so sod off / no, we’re oh so very sorry there was no proper consultation, we will try to make up for it. Now. We always meant to, honest.
    Essentially, almost everybody is pissed off, not about actual ACTA (not many people bother to read the actual text), but because it was such a blatant case of trying to to bury the bad news (does it sound familiar?), by hiding the issue at some obscure places (page 40 of the fishery commission report, and by refusing (apparently the same minister who claimed consultation documents were circulated) to make the text of the agreement accessible. Now of course everybody tries to profit from the whole uproad – the media, who had previously kept shtum about ACTA now masturbate over the issue, the opposition, raining sh… on government when most of their MPs actually voted FOR the ACTA in the autumn. And the government trying to figure out, how to get out of the smoking pile so as not to leave a lasting impression. Lasting, that is, until the next elections.
    But overall, they should be grateful for this “attack”, really. After all, if you get people as administrators of the PM website (cuddly cuddly) to use “admin1” as a password, the bells are loud and clear. And it makes you start wondering, what the Chinese (and no doubt Poland’s best allies too) might have scraped from those pl.gov systems by now anyway.
    And there is a vague possibility that the Anonymous were just primed to make this whole issue so.. public. Perhaps by some of the organizations which felt that their requests for consultation was ignored and they felt powerless to extract any meaningful response from the gov side by other means. Well, if so, it seems to work.


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