Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Brother legislation on its way

From: NPE
New laws governing the retention of data from mobile phone and internet usage that critics claim will help usher in a Big-Brother era will come into force in Poland come the New Year.

Bringing the country into line with an EU directive designed to combat terrorism, from January 1 information on calls made my mobile phones and just what people have been doing on the internet will be retained for 18 months.

While this may alarm human rights groups and prompt fears of the data either being abused and misused, or simply mislaid, the newspaper Puls Biznesu has claimed that the government has even taken matters a step further by requiring service providers to keep the location from where mobile phone calls are made.

This should provide the authorities with a map of the comings and goings of phone users, along with just who and when they made calls.

The huge amount of information that the law requires to be stored has raised the hackles of the industry.

“To record the number of data is a huge undertaking. To make changes to the data base increases the technical requirements, time, money,” Dariusz Kosni, from the Polish network provider Telefonia Cyfrowa, told Puls Biznesu. “I do not know whether he will be able to cope, and even if so it will be very expensive.”

The industry claims that to get the systems up and running to cope with the new law will require tens of millions of zloty.

It has also disputed government claims that the new law complies with the constitution and provisions of the existing telecommunications law.

Official snooping through electronic communication might also get a further boost from recent changes to the gambling law.

In an effort to crack down on and regulate the growing trend of e-gambling the new law, claimed the newspaper Gazeta Prawna, will allow the police to have free access to an internet user’s data without the need of a court warrant.

The paper goes further by saying that the police, customs and excise and secret services, under the pretext of taking preventative action, will soon have the freedom to delve into somebody’s internet past even if they haven’t come under formal investigation.