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Thousands march in Poland to protest new surveillance laws

[JURIST] Thousands of people in Poland on Saturday protested the government's planned changes to a certain law that would increase its surveillance over Polish citizens. The proposed change to the law, initiated by the ruling Law and Justice Party, would expand [PressTV report] the government's rights to access digital data and loosen restrictions of using surveillance in law enforcement. Those opposed to the law argue that the law will have serious implications on privacy rights. The Law and Justice Party has been making moves [Reuters report] to gain more control over the judiciary since it took office in November. The European Union (EU) [official website] has even taken notice, launching an investigation into allegations that the Polish government is undermining democratic principles. If Poland were to be found guilty of these allegations, the country would lose voting rights in the EU for a specified period of time.

Surveillance and data collection have been worldwide topics of discussion, particularly after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret [JURIST report] US National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013. Earlier this month US-based tech companies Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo submitted evidence [JURIST report] of possible conflicts that may arise from the UK government's proposed Investigatory Powers Bill, noting that the bulk data collections required by the bill will have an international impact. In December China passed a new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report] that requires technology companies to provide information to the government obtained from their products and make information systems "secure and controllable." In October the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied [JURIST report] a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union to halt the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA. The court ruled that Congress intended for the agency to continue its data collection over the transition period, and the new legislation was to take effect November 29. In August the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed [JURIST report] a ruling that had blocked the NSA from obtaining call detail records from US citizens.

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