Polish sites hit in Acta hack attack

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Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Image caption,
The website of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was affected by the attack

Online activists have attacked Polish government websites in protest against plans to sign an international copyright treaty.

The websites of the prime minister, parliament and other government offices were all rendered unreachable or sluggish on Sunday.

Critics say the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) could lead to censorship.

The government said it would sign the treaty as planned on Thursday.

After the attack, the country's minister for administration and digitisation Michal Boni said the government had not carried out enough consultations with the public over the matter.

But following a meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Monday, Mr Boni said: "The Acta agreement in no way changes Polish laws or the rights of internet users and internet usage."

The government was threatened before, during and after the attack.

Amessage from Twitter user @AnonymousWikiafter the sites went down read: "Dear Polish government, we will continue to disrupt and interfere with your government official websites until the 26th. Do not pass ACTA."

The userlater posted: "We have dox files and leaked documentations on many Poland officials, if ACTA is passed, we will release these documents."

'Huge interest'

Government spokesman Pawel Gras insisted the slow performance of the websites was not due to targeted action, but instead was "just the result of huge interest in the sites of the prime minister and parliament".

His statement was mocked on social networks.

A recent draft of Acta said the agreement intended to improve "the enforcement of intellectual property rights" in participating countries.

It proposes to do this by setting international standards over how copyright infringements are dealt with.

Past drafts of the treaty suggested that internet service providers (ISPs) would have to give up data about their users if they accused of copyright infringement.

However the agreement's authors reassured ISPs that this was not the case.

Preventative measures include possible imprisonment and fines.

'Blackout' protests

The agreement has so far been signed by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.

The Acta protest came days after co-ordinated opposition to US bills the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protest Intellectual Property Act (Pipa). Several high-profile websites went "dark" and took their content offline for a day.

House and Senate debates over the bills have since been postponed.

Like Sopa and Pipa, critics of Acta argue that the bill will stifle freedom of expression on the internet.

In 2009, a collective of non-governmental organizations, consumers unions and online service providers said Acta would "seriously hinder European innovation in the digital single market while undermining fundamental rights and democracy at large".

Polish opposition party, the Democratic Left Alliance, also said the government should not sign the agreement.