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Poland: Potential Internet Access Restrictions Boosting Creativity

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Poland, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Music, Politics, Protest

At the beginning of February Prime Minister Donald Tusk met with Polish bloggers to discuss the government's proposal to introduce the Registry of Banned Websites and Services [1]. The result was the withdrawal of the above-mentioned proposal. The threat of any restrictions on the Polish web kicked off a series of creative reactions to the issue; reactions that serve as a reminder of how close Poland was to potential censorship in 2010.

Blackout Europe [2] [PL] – organisers of manifestation in Warsaw – link to a dummy website [3] [PL] featuring the Prime Minister:

STOP

The website that you are trying to reach can be dangerous. Concerned about your safety, we have banned access to it.

It could have contained: child pornography, gambling, content offending the public, content unapproved by the Ministry of Information.

The attempt to access the site has been registered and forwarded to the Office of Internet Control, Tax Office as well as local Europolice Station.

Please keep calm awaiting the arrival of police officers.

‘Do not take each sentence of mine as a promise’ – Donald Tusk

The same site links to a video made by Martin Lechowicz, titled ‘Cage':

One day the bondage will come,
like warm dawn after cold night,
Freedom which no one is fighting for,
Because someone would convince us with their warm voice
It's not tanks on the streets
But it was you who stayed at home
When we still had time to shout for something
When we still had someone to shout

Comments to the song still continue to pour in. A week ago, Heato124 wrote [4] [PL]:

I have no words…I had tears in my eyes listening to it…it's so sad..

Sebek23b opposes [4] [PL]:

I feel sad when they accuse a man of stuff like this. Majority of politicians have no opinions of their own because they CANNOT have them. They need to dance as they are told.

Pigmey18 points out [PL]:

True song. But there is a way to deal with censorship, anonymous networks of Freenet and Tor, I suggest to check them for more info on the topic on the web, where censorship has no right to exist :) Cheers.

Another song from the same author, called ‘Uncensored’, has generated 38,000 views so far:

‘You who care for our safety and protect our dreams,
We would like to express our gratefulness,
We – your faithful dogs!
So thank you, good lord, for you put the muzzles on us, like on dogs,
Thank you, big thanks to you…’

Comments to this video also continue to be posted.

Vagla, a strong voice on the issue, who posts very insightful analysis on this blog [5] [PL], posted this video in which he is singing a song from an old Polish movie called ‘Banned Songs':

An axe, a mattock, a keyboard, who will get to the second term [referring to political career],
An axe, a mattock, a seal, a knife, Registry of Banned Sites is just behind the corner.

The viral ‘classic’ excerpt from a movie about Hitler has also found its use:

What a disgrace! We already let them vote! What else do they want?!

Three days ago beaudeau commented [PL]:

if we are subdued to censorship (and to a certain extend we are, and this every day) that is happening on a level more sublime than a silly case imagined by a silly Prime Minister.

Tomasz Smykowski posted a timeline of censorship in Poland on his blog [6] [PL]:

polishcensorshiphistory