Prime Minister Donald Tusk has pulled the plug on a controversial bill that would establish a register of banned websites in Poland, in reaction to a chorus of disapproval from the online community. The bill was a part of the P.M.’s plan to eliminate all gambling outside of casinos.
Gaming machines and online gambling are widely used in Poland, and were at the center of a recent scandal involving members of Tusks own political party. Following the scandal, Tusk took an incredibly strong anti gambling stance. He sought to ban online gambling, and furthermore, amend Telecommunications Law 179a, allowing all online content to be filtered by the government.
Fearing a step backward in Poland’s hard earned democratic progress, Polish citizens expressed their opinion through a flood of emails, blogs, and articles protesting the censorship plans. One letter addressed to President Lech Kaczyński, encouraging him to challenge the bill, had been signed by over 75,000 Polish Lawyers, academics, politicians and bloggers. The heads of three polish internet associations: the Polish IT Association, the Polish Chamber of IT and Telecommunications, and the Modern Poland Foundation also sent letters calling for the bill to be dropped.
They felt website censorship or ‘blacklisting’ would be a violation of their privacy, and aimed to punish the entire country for the actions of select few.
The bill’s morality aside, the process of full content filtering bears a dangerous resemblance to tactics used by the communist government, something the citizens of Poland know all too much about. Furthermore, if content filtering was enforced, snatching up a small amount of personal freedom, how long would it take for the government to utilize even more invasive strategies?