Poland’s New Surveillance Law Targets Personal Data of Environmental Advocates

 | Kate Aronoff 07/03/2018 9:15 AM MDT
Credit; Wikipedia Commons

A new Polish law with sweeping surveillance measures threatens free speech and the success of an important climate conference scheduled to take place in Katowice, Poland, later this year.

The conference, COP24, is billed as “Paris 2.0” — a crucial follow-up the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, where the Paris Climate Agreement was negotiated. Around 40,000 people from all over the world are expected flock to the industrial city in December, where participating countries will decide on the rulebook for implementing the historic climate accord.

In advance of the conference, a growing number of international NGOs and United Nations agencies have raised concerns about a law passed by Poland’s parliament — a bill “on specific solutions related to the organization of sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Republic of Poland.” While the vast majority of the law does little more than establish rules on governing how to host and finance the conference, one statute allows Polish authorities to “collect, obtain, gather, verify, process and use information, including personal data about persons posing a threat to public safety and order, including outside the borders of the Republic of Poland” if there is a “justified assumption” they will be staying in Poland.