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Poland's Prime Minister Goes For Open Government 80

rysiek writes "In a surprise announcement, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declared new policy toward a more open state: ''All information funded from public sources should be available as public property, free for everyone to use it as they wish,' said Tusk last week, during a meeting with NGO leaders in Poland. (English translation.) This is very unusual in Europe, and in fact puts Poland ahead of other EU states. A loose web of Polish NGOs for more than two years has advocated more open public information laws. A bill to that effect will now be presented in Sejm (the Polish parliament)."
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Poland's Prime Minister Goes For Open Government

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  • Bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mafoski ( 962059 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:07AM (#36260154)
    Relax, it's just talking, there is an election comming this fall, so he has to fill voters' brains with dull promises. So.. nothing to be excited about, it won't happen.
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:13AM (#36260182)
      Moreover, the translation suggests his statement was made with significant caveats. TFA's third paragraph suggests that info funded by public sources is public...unless it's not in the best interests of the state, or is defined as classified – the example given is of treasury and economic research. The guy is talking about creating a category of free information, not making everything publically available as the summary claims. Seems it’s about moving Poland towards the position already occupied by the rest of the EU, not barrelling past it.

      If I’m reading the translation wrong, and to be fair it’s a little hard on the eyes as it stands, I’d appreciate Polish speakers pointing it out.
      • by paziek ( 1329929 )

        You are correct on this.

      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

        by RedMagic ( 658608 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:37AM (#36260278) Homepage
        Don't rely on Google Translate for precision :) The Polish text says, that once the provisions are in place, everything will be public and free *by default*, aside from a limited amount of categories, like classified files or financial analysis, which the government relies on in negotiations with other parties.
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

        by rysiek ( 1328591 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @04:36AM (#36260516) Homepage

        well, not quite. there will be some provisions about what is *not* open and up for grabs, but those will be few and will be clearly defined in the bill. everything else will be completely open.

        yes, thanks to election looming around the corner it was possible to actually pressure the government and the PM for this, but it looks like it will become the law before the elections. so win anyways.

        Disclaimer: I was participating in the meetings, representing the Polish FLOSS Foundation.

        • by piotru ( 124109 )

          Could you please explain the part about blocking the Internet content please?
          I am afraid that this was the main concern of the P.M. Tusk's government considering their persistent attempts at silencing and criminalizing the opposition.
          Is there a chance that Internet filtering may become enforceable before the autumn elections?

          • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

            by rysiek ( 1328591 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:17AM (#36260876) Homepage

            I do not think internet filtering will become law in Poland anytime soon. There is a meeting of NGOs and Ministry of Justice on that topic planned during the next week, and we believe we can convince lawmakers that internet filtering is a bad idea.

            I would like to remind you all that a year ago there was an idea for network filtering (in the context of anti-gambling crackdown), and the very same loosely-weaved group of NGOs and bloggers, on a similar meeting with the Prime Minister convinced the Government not to make it a law. So we have a good track record here. Hopes are up.

            • by piotru ( 124109 )

              Thank you for your explanation. Yes, I remember that last year's ad-hoc group meeting with P.M. Tusk. Although many people had objections as to the way that group's members were selected, the outcome has been positive.
              Would it strain your kindness to ask where I can find any records from that last meeting, the information about how and when was it announced, who could participate etc.

        • well, not quite. there will be some provisions about what is *not* open and up for grabs, but those will be few and will be clearly defined in the bill. everything else will be completely open

          Based on previous examples we can be quite sure that what's classified will be a matter of an arbitrary decision of some low-level clerk trying to cover up their incompetence/ hide something from the general public because if they don't know it exists they're not going to ask some inconvenient questions

      • As requested: it is not exactly as you understood, although also no the way, summary tells. He says that there MAY be cases, which can be categorised as non freely available, but IF those get identified, there will be a clear and highly precise catalogue of those cases... Well, it doesn't change things much (backdoor is there) but the wording is more palatable (as expected from an experienced liar^H^H^H^Hpolitician)
    • I think you're right, he's just running out of ideas on what he could promise to get reelected. Just like the last time everything will be put on a shelf as soon as the elections are over.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Maybe he's taking the script of a similar episode from "Yes, Minister" or "Yes, Prime Minister", I cannot recall which one that was. It was very humorous however.

      • It's Yes Minister. As Sir Humphrey said: "You mean that within the context of our overall policy on Open Government, we should adopt a more flexible posture...?"

        And the Civil Service mantras:

        • It takes longer to do things quickly,
        • It costs more to do things cheaply,
        • It's more democratic to do things in secret.

        Scarily, at least two of these are true!

    • We need a new category of "Free". As well as "Free as in 'beer'" and "Free as in 'speech'" we need to have "Free as in 'Wishing Well []'".
  • Trojan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @03:09AM (#36260170)

    Open government data in exchange for blocking file sharing links. Sneaky. Last attempt at internet censorship failed, they are at it again.

    • by rysiek ( 1328591 )
      And this attempt will fail, too, as people are watching. And no, no such bargain has been done. Network filtering is not something we in the NGOs are willing to agree on. And as last year has shown, we are able to get enough clout to do something about it.
  • Considering that Polish Government has been using FOSS in the majority of the governmental boxes, it is nice to see that their Government looks upon proven qualities of "openness", as well. Playing open minded, with cards shown. Nice.
  • by Knx ( 743893 )
    My first thought was: "Hmm. A discovery about Poland's Prime Numbers? What's the definition of a Poland's Prime anyway?". Ok. Time for the first coffee of the day, I guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This policy is quite old, so if anything our Prime Minister just restated existing policy. However, there is a catch -- beurocrats can put as many obstacles as they want, i.e. you want a public information? Here we go with xerox, with bad printing, just 700 pages, find what you want.

    A lot of goverment also violates that policy and... nothing happens.

    In short, forget about policies and law in Poland, only personal influences matter here. We don't even have freedom of speech.

    • by rysiek ( 1328591 )
      important part of NGOs talks with the Government in Poland right now is advocating open standards, and transparency. seems we might have gained some ground here, too. there will be an additional Open Data submission soon.
  • Openness is not enough. What is required is accountability.

    For example, the Greek government decided to publish its records in

    In that site, there is a lot of information published, including phone bills from public services. But there is no reference to what phone numbers public servants call, making the freedom essentially useless: we, the citizens, don't know if the public servants spent money phoning other public servants or sex hot lines, for example.

    Openness is not useful without Accountability.

  • In March this year polish government tried to ram through draconian law that would require registering web sites in local authorities, allowed some beurocrats from KRRiTV (polish FCC equivalent) to decide which content is appropriate, which is not and charge fines / mandate takedowns of content considered "inappropriate" by those beurocrats. Whole affair of passing this crap was "to harmonize with EU laws" of course.

    This caused a huge upheaval, especially in ranks of rulling party electorate that considers

  • OK, I live in Poland. First I will write why it doesn't matter what is written in this article. Next I will write why this article is a bullshit. [1] a) One year ago Prime Mnister Tusk tried to create a law that allows a censorship of the internet. People start shouting "WTF", "GTFO", etc, so he withdrew. About one year later he tried do the same thing but in more subtle way. b) Probably as you know about one year ago Polish President Kaczynski has died in the plane crash. Three things about this and Mr.
    • Homophobic much? Yeah, I'm joking too.
      • Yep, my spelling is not perfect... Unfortunately I don't get your joke. I'm not from the USA: []
        • You wrote "gay" where you meant "guy". "Gay" has become slang for a homosexual man.

          Anyway, about this latest bit of lawmaking. Sounds great on the surface, but I feared it was another attempt at whitewashing. Call the law the opposite of what is really intended.

          • This is why I mentioned imperfect spelling and sexual joke by Jon Lajoie :)

            Generally speaking, much more over this news from Poland...
            Yes, we are fucked up. When USSR collapsed USA said "You see!!! No strong economy without democracy!!!" But now China shows that's not true. Western world assumed 20 years ago that China would take democracy with economic cooperation. But now we can see something quite opposite...
  • The issues discussed today included also Internet blocking schemes, mandatory data retention, regulation of the convergent on-demand services as well as liability of Internet service providers and notice and takedown procedures. The Internet community representatives have welcomed progress on some of the issues as well as indicating items still to be resolved during working meetings starting early next week. []

  • Current Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, also promised some similar form of transparency, that turned into a joke. I hope this is true, but I wouldn't hold me breath.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.