“No ACTA- how they save the Internet in Poland“

by Karolina Limbach on October 19, 2014

acta 2


Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube form the basis of networking knowledge in contemporary public life. Creators of the above sites did not assume how great will be their impact in public debate. In todays world the speed of communication as well as the possibility to publish almost all information and dispatching it to the sharer causes that gathering of hundreds of people in a given place at one time , or collection a hundred of thousand signatures for a civil bill no longer be a problem. Therefore, it seems that social media can contribute to the improvement of democracy and building of civil society in the countries in which citizens are active and they are regular users of this type of media. Paradoxically, even unofficial initiatives of twitter or facebook users move to mainstream media such as television or press and become interesting for politicians.(Leah, 2011, p.2-3)

The activities of social media users can be divided into political and socially vulnerable. Part of them is the answer to current problems or political events others create a new public discussion and debate. Clause Offe in the midle of 80s has defined four most important new social movements : ecological, defending human rights (including feminist), pacifist and movements involved in the “alternative” and “community” production and distribution of goods and services. He referred them because of their ability to mobilize and political influences. ( Offe,1995, 230)

According to Anthony Giddens contemporary unorthodox political activities take the form of social movements – collective action aimed at forcing the collective interests or the common goal, outside the sphere of established institutions.(Giddens, 2007, 464)

This type of social formations are called new social movements, which emphasize that they are a unique product of late modernity, and in terms of methods, motivation and orientation they differ significantly from earlier forms of collective activity. ( Offe,1995, 230)


Case study: “No ACTA- how they save the Internet in Poland “

In January 2012 in network appeared a massage that Polish government would like to sign the “Agreement on combating trade in counterfeit goods market” (in short called ACTA) no one believed that it will be a reason for the outbreak of the “ first uprising of the Polish Internet”. (URL document :http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2008/october/tradoc_140836.11.08.pdf)

How did it happen? People suddenly came out into the streets with strike banners and a protest action has not become any organization or company, what is more the short mention about signing the ACTA document appeared in traditional media much more earlier.

Undoubtedly, the case went on susceptible ground – a vision of reducing civil liberties and attempt to impose the control always arouses the civil opposition. To Polish Internet came also an information about the protests against SOPA and PIPA in the West.
The escalation of the protest would not have been possible without social media. In case of ACTA social media not only show the opposition but also an effective grass roots lobbying. The network provides much more capabilities than traditional lobbying, in which protesters take an action such as collecting signatures, e-mails and letters to decision-makers and pickets organization. The example of ACTA case showed that new media such as Internet in conjunction with the social networks can do even more.

The performance of anonymity, which we had to deal with during the wave of street protests in Poland , gained power through the adoption of the Guy Fawkes mask
as the dominant symbol of the protests.
Nicholas Rakusa-Suszczewski in his report interprets the mask as a veil concealing the ideological shortcomings of motion. The film V for Vendetta (2006) created by Wachowski brothers which based on cult comic from 80’s , made that the image of Fawkes mask has become an essential element of identifying groups of protest, such as Anonymous hacker collective and anti-censorship movements occurring in
Internet .

Consider two of the many reasons why anonymous mask made ​​such a sensation.
The first is a new function of face mask in modern societies.
Face has become a basic commodity of media consumed by the participants society of the spectacle.
As a creature of pop culture has undergone a dizzying metamorphosis

disengaging from the traditional understanding of the true human face,
became an autonomous entity presented in the mass transmission
recipients – the image of public figures, pop culture icon
and so on. For users of cyberspace (cyberspaces) and at the same time
Children mass culture communicating with interfaces
(inter-faces) and producing cyber faces for the
self-presentation in the virtual world has proven to be a natural mask ,
material from which identity could be constructed (Belting 2013, p. 214 ).

The second reason for the symbolic force of Fawkes mask is a tradition social control in the era of modernity.

Control of the Internet by corporations, media and political institutions in a natural way
brings analogies to build police archives, which since the nineteenth
century collecting images of dangerous faces which should serve for social security.

(Belting 2013 s. 234 ).


Demonstrators in masks protest against Poland's government plans to sign ACTA in front of the EU office in Warsaw

Smiles on the masks emphasized irony and sarcasm on protesters banners.

The story about the social movement against ACTA in Poland shows how today we can demonstrate civil disobedience. It all begins on the Internet where people can pass on the information and solidarity to fight a common cause. Through the Internet, sending hundreds of thousands of e-mails to the government and to members of Poles mobilized government to listen to their arguments and change position on ACTA. Polish case affect on people from other European countries , their also mobalized through social network sites and went to the streets , they also sent a lot of e-mails to Members of European parliament against ACTA . Some scientists believe that thanks to Polish , Europe has avoided ACTA.

According to Castells who cuts off the discussion about “twitter revolutions” and drive force of new media for him it is pointless and obvious that “ media do not cause revolutions and social movements” (Castells, 2003, p.58) New media are just the perfect tools to communicate, its possibilities are limitless which in this case the young people were able to take advantage of it and fight for free Internet in Poland.

In conclusion digital technology turns out to be a crucial in the development of the modern activism infrastructure. The functioning of the new social movement is based largely on the network, both in the process of designing the organizational structures as well as talking about action. A prerequisite for the action of a social movement is to make the basis of their activity of modern communications technology – new media (especially the Internet and mobile media) are in the context of a social movement the key technology.

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Are we surveillance society ?

by Karolina Limbach on October 19, 2014

It is an old cliché to say that technology in itself is neither good or bad , and it all depends on how we use it! In this post I would like to focus on CCTV in other words industrial cameras that for some of us are the perfect tools against the crimes and for others a perfect tools for surveillance society. The German group of activist decided to get ride of the cameras from the public space. Using the social networking sites and specially websites , they created the contest that called “The Game” . It was just one task – destroy as many CCTV cameras as possible , the points was awarded for every single destroyed camera plus extra bonuses for aesthetic – if the camera will be destroyed in very spectacular way.
(here you can watch the video “The Game” -Camover )

Videos of vandalism were placed on the network and everybody could access.
This is a act of vandalism and this is not subject for discussion but why people are ready to break the law to stop the system that was created to protect them ?


Over the past ten years United Kingdom has become the most surveillance society in Europe. There are more cameras in UK in the proportion to the population than in other countries, including United States. Which means that United Kingdom is the largest user of CCTV in the world. So what is the reason behind the exponential rise in CCTV cameras in development countries? (Goold 2004, p.1-2)
It is very difficult to find one simple definition of Closed Circuit Television(CCTV) in the literature of surveillance because many writers believe that there is no reason to define what CCTV system is, because ‘we all know what we are talking about'(Goold 2004, p 8)
According to Norris and Armstrong when we leave from the privacy of our homes we are under almost constant control of camera surveillance. Closed Circuit Television is almost everywhere in Britain. We can find them in town centres, shopping malls , schools, hospitals, universities, leisure centres , banks and other places which we do not expect. Traffic cameras monitor our compliance with red lights and speed so we can get a ticket for breaking the law without meeting with police officer. For many citizens use of video surveillance mean that if there are in public area , they talk with friends or do shopping, camera is probably monitoring their actions. (Norris, Amstrong, Morgan 1998, p. 3-4) Cameras can be used 24 hours a day, 365 days a year , whether we like it or not , CCTV accompany us in everyday life.

The reasons behind the exponential rise in CCTV cameras in UK.
The first and the most important reason for the speed and scale whit which this new technological urban infrastructure has emerged was crime prevention. CCTV system has designed to detect and deter crime including theft and criminal damage. CCTV main task has been to improve the level of safety , thanks to the cameras people should feel safer and the fear of crime should replaced ‘feel good’ factor .The CCTV has been promoted as a perfect tool to detect and deter crimes to convince that the streets will be quieter and safer. So in this way government has wanted to show that the city centres in United Kingdom become the perfect place to locate the business. The CCTV system has been also a big encouragement for customers because no longer have to worry that, someone will steal their wallet or assault them. Government has considered that the introduction of CCTV system will attract entrepreneurs to locate the business in this region and thus encourages customer to make purchases in a secure environment what causes rise in economic activities in this area.(Norris &Morgan &Armstrong 1998,p.22)
CCTV affects the sense of security and obviously increase the attractiveness of a place where it is installed because even ‘ town centers managers view the installation of CCTV as of a key importance in improving the economic attractiveness of town centers
(Norris &Morgan &Armstrong 1998,p.29)

Except that the cameras have increased the sense of security ,they have also different application. Cameras have been installed in places where fights have taken place or other anti-social behaviours for example in the vicinity of discos , pubs or other places where are large concentration of people. These cameras have decreased the vandal and drunken behavior such as : knocking out windows, and in the same way reduce the cost of any repairs in this area. Closed circuit television system has prevented also intrusions to private houses , vehicle theft and robbery(Goold 2004 p.27)
CCTV system has also used to monitor the traffic on the streets. In such crowded city like for example London , these cameras control the traffic lights and traffic jams which makes easier to move around the city. System has also detected the stolen car on the road or in the traffic , this means that police has react very fast , recover a car and catch a thief. (Lyon 2003 p.268)
The events of 11 September 2001 and 11 March 2004 which experienced New York and Madrid , and bombing on 7 July 2005 in London changed approach to terrorism in United Kingdom. Cameras have designed to capture the strange behavior of people on the streets , airports and other places threatened with attack. CCTV cameras have to reduced the risk of terrorist attacks, but some people argue that more cameras on the streets in UK after these attacks had only calm down the British society. It could mean that the cameras are unsuitable to fight with terrorists but cope very well with human fear. . (Chrzczonowicz, Kwiatkowska-Darul& Skowroński 2003,p. 73)
A few years ago stadiums in United Kingdom were famous from vandalism. Thanks CCTV system and harsh punishment for aggressive football fans it has changed. Today stadiums in UK are the meeting place for whole families.
Privacy problem

From the beginning of the existence of the Surveillance Society , this topic has involved with ethical and human rights dilemmas. Closed Circuit Television has always been a source of controversy, concerns and very often protests. It is hard to be surprised , especially in an era of greater interference in people’s privacy.
CCTV opponents have argued that cameras installed at every corner in the city completely deprive them of their privacy. (Wood 2006)What arouses fear and reluctance of society to the CCTV system is also new technology and digitization of this system. Today many cameras are fitted with full pan, tilt, zoom, an record in high resolution colour. Cameras include also night vision, computer assisted operation and motion detection facilities. Control rooms have the best equipment, computers and telecommunication technology which is linked to police computer system. It means that cameras see everything, record and store important information.(Norris, Morgan& Armstrong 1998,p. 248)

According to David Lyon CCTV systems are digitized, so the images can be subject to automated storage, processing and retrieval by computers. This means that CCTV has ability to connect for example the car with its owner, and enter information into the database , which means that owner and vehicle no longer be anonymous. It also means that if you pass under this digitized surveillance gaze you can be classified as “suspected / unsuspected’, ‘wanted /not wanted’, ‘lawbreaker/ law-abiding’, camera will assess whether you are a dangerous person or not. (Lyon 2003,p.268-270) That is why it arouses controversy because classification no longer relies on face to face knowledge, you are categorize by system.
Opponents believe that CCTV cameras violate their privacy and are not ethical. They also feel cheated because British people have not legal rights of privacy, they are also afraid because they know that every person can set up a CCTV system and that there is no licencing. Disturbing is the fact that there is no government agency to provide oversight.

People are concerned about few aspect of visual surveillance , 72 per cent are afraid that these cameras may be used by wrong people , 39 per cent of people do not trust people who are in control of these systems and 37 per cent feel that in the future government will be used cameras to control people. (Norris, Morgan& Armstrong 1998,p. 245)
Opponent created the list with reasons against the cameras , the most important have following headings: “Cameras do not reduce crime , the technology is more powerful than you realise, CCTV is a tool to enforce morality and public order, CCTC is a tool for prejudice and discrimination,there are no laws to protect us from cameras“
(Norris, Morgan& Armstrong, 1998,p. 248)
All these headers show that people are really worried about their privacy , they also worried what could happen when information about them , fall into wrong hands. In my opinion all these concerns show that People do not want be a Orwellian society where people are constantly under surveillance.

Internet and the rapidly evolving technologies are unpredictable tools , ready to usher in a new era of enlightenment intellectual, cultural and spiritual, material prosperity and cooperation between peoples, who are looking to solve common global problems – or fall into the black abyss of absolute totalitarian control; intellectual violence, and mass surveillance on an unprecedented scale.


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