It’s not every day parliamentary members identify themselves with a subversive Internet group. But that’s just what happened in Poland when lawmakers from the leftist party Palikot’s Movement covered their faces with Guy Fawkes masks, the look that has become shorthand for Anonymous. A contentious fight broke out in parliament — and in the streets — over Poland's plans to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
ACTA is meant to set international standards for violations of intellectual-property laws, but opponents fear it could lead to censorship online. The United States signed the agreement last year, along with Canada and South Korea. For the past week, the agreement has stirred a battle online after the European Union started to consider joining.
On Thursday, Poland and 21 other European Union members signed the treaty. The Internet group Anonymous attacked Polish government Web sites, protesters marched in the streets and lawmakers donned the masks.
There are similarities between ACTA and the recently tabled Stop Online Piracy Act that U.S. Internet companies protested two weeks ago with a blackout.