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Poland president approves controversial surveillance law

[JURIST] Polish President Andrzej Duda [official profile] approved a new law on Thursday that grants the government [press release, in Polish] greater access to digital data and broader use of surveillance for law enforcement. The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) [party website, in Polish], which won a parliamentary majority last October and supported passage of the law, justified the measures as a necessary action in light of recent terrorist threats. In January, thousands of Polish citizens protested [JURIST report] against the law, arguing that the new powers are a threat to their privacy. Additionally, the European Union (EU) [official website] launched an investigation to determine if Poland has breached its obligations as a member country. The Polish Ombudsman [official website, in Polish] has expressed their intention to challenge the law for constitutional violations, although a Constitutional Court ruling would now require a two-thirds majority under a law passed last year.

PiS has rejected [DW report] criticisms that its policies are undermining democracy in Poland. However, there is a larger concern in the EU that new Polish law will erode checks and balances on government powers. In January President Duda signed [JURIST report] a controversial media control bill into law. Under that law, the treasury minister will replace the National Broadcasting Council in appointing and removing media executives in charge of public radio and television programming. In December Poland enacted [JURIST report] a law requiring its highest court to have 13 judges present, as well as a two-thirds majority vote to make a ruling. Earlier last month the leader of the European Parliament compared PIS's rise to power in Poland to a coup [BBC report], leading the government to call for an apology.

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