Yesterday several thousand Cracovians gathered on the Rynek to protest what they view as excessive internet surveillance by the government.
Demonstrators waved a host of flags along with slogans riffing on internet lingo and dystopian novels. Several commentators remarked upon a surprising variety of ages in the crowd, which, after speeches against current government policies, symbolically sang the national anthem and laid flowers by the statue of national poet hero Adam Mickiewicz.
Poland’s online media laws are some of the most invasive in Europe. Polish law requires telecom companies to retain metadata on its users and allows nine different law enforcement agencies (an exceptionally large number) to demand it. According to the digital rights group Panoptykon Foundation, nearly two million requests for user data are made by the government yearly, whereas in most EU countries it is less that half that number.
The event was organized by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), their third recent demonstration following those against PiS changes to the constitutional court and the management of public media outlets.