Poland on Thursday signed the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty amid nationwide protests and the threat of cyberattacks, according to media reports.
The ACTA treaty, which aims at curtailing online piracy, has been compared with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) that have since been stalled in Congress. The two bills drew a huge amount of criticism and a number of websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist “blacked out” more than a week ago in protest.
Hackers from the “Polish Underground,” reported the Warsaw Voice publication, took down several public administration websites, including the one belonging to Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s office. They posted “HACKED!” and “STOP ACTA!” on his website.
In the city of Krakow, around 15,000 people demonstrated in the streets in a mostly peaceful protest against the bill, which they said would violate their freedom of speech and would amount to online censorship. Other Polish cities also saw protests.
Protesters chanted, “Down with censorship!” in Polish, while some displayed a piece of paper across their mouths, saying “ACTA,” according to the Warsaw Voice.
ACTA is an agreement between European Union countries—including Poland—as well as Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States and seeks to sync up copyright laws. Under it states would have to hand over personal data about users accused of violating copyright laws. However, like SOPA and PIPA, many activists say it would impair the freedom of the Internet.
Prime Minister Tusk defended signing the treaty. “ACTA was accepted by countries who, like it or not, are the backbone of freedom in the whole world, namely the EU, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea and Mexico,” he said, according to the Warsaw Business Journal.