100 questions on surveillance to Polish authorities

Have the Polish authorities been aware of the PRISM program operated by US security services and have they discovered violations of the Polish law? Is the Polish prosecution going to investigate the matter? Who, and on what grounds, decided to refuse asylum to Edward Snowden?

These are just three of the 100 questions that Amnesty International Poland, the Panoptykon Foundation and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights asked today to the public authorities, including the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Edward Snowden’s disclosures regarding PRISM and other mass surveillance programs as well as secret cooperation between European and American security services have undermined the trust that the public places in the government. Yet again the means of democratic control over secret services have proven insufficient. Genuine concern together with the lack of information has raised a host of questions, including questions about the policies of the Polish government.

– Thanks to the information revealed by Edward Snowden we became aware that the American security services have the capacity to trace practically everything we do on-line. That is a massive threat to our privacy. An honest answer to the questions we ask is the only chance the authorities have to rebuild our trust in that the Polish state will respect our constitutional rights – emphasised Draginja Nadaždin, Director of Amnesty International Poland.

This is yet another attempt to find answers to the questions stated above. For the first time they were asked in the public debate on the limits and admissibility of mass surveillance, organized on September 11th by Amnesty International Poland, the Panoptykon Foundation and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. Decision makers responsible for security and internal affairs, including the Prime Minister, refused the invitation. 

– Mass, pre-emptive surveillance cannot be reconciled with the constitutional right to privacy. The society deserves to know whether Polish security services have been involved in the secret programs operated by the United States and what Polish authorities have done or intend to do in order to protect us from unlawful surveillance. We cannot accept silence and inaction of the authorities while our basic rights are threatened – explained Katarzyna Szymielewicz, President of the Panoptykon Foundation.

Adam Bodnar, vice-President of the Helsinki Foundation, added: One hundred questions we ask should not be received as just a symbolic gesture of protest. We raise specific issues and expect a reply in compliance with the law on public access to information [the reply should be sent within 14 days]. If we don’t receive any reply at all, we are determined to pursue our constitutional rights before administrative courts.

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