In June 1989 Warsaw University applied to EARN (European Academic Research Network) to be joined to this international network. A later petition by Polish scientists, conveyed to US President Bush by Professor Geremek during President Walesa’s historic visit to Washington, DC (in which Walesa addressed a joint session of the US Congress on November 15th 1989), helped to lift COCOM [Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls] restrictions in February 1990. Consequently, EARN agreed to connect Poland in April 1990, with connection taking place in July 1990. The initial link to EARN employed BITNET and DECNET protocols, and the first international link based on the TCP/IP protocol was established by physicists from Warsaw University in August 1991.
From 1993 an informal group of system administrators started to have regular discussions on a list maintained at Cracow Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, which later was transferred to the list of the Polish Internet Community. Polish Internet Community (PSI) was formally registered, and the first Board elected, in 1995: Marek Car (President), Maciej Uhlig and Tomasz Kokowski (Vice-presidents), Rafal Maszkowski, Jacek Gajewski, Michal Jankowski and Szymon Sokol (Board Members). Jacek Gajewski, in particular, initiated contacts between PSI and the Internet Society, looking into the possibility of recognizing PSI as an ISOC Chapter – a goal that was not achieved due to the practical stop of PSI activities after the tragic death of its President.
In 2000, several persons involved in PSI resumed discussions about organization to represent the local Internet community. Being in working contact with the Internet Society, they founded ISOC Polska on November 16th 2000, which was chartered as the ISOC Poland Chapter on December 14th 2000. The first General Assembly took place on January 13th 2001 and elected a Board: Andrzej Wilk (President), Wladyslaw Majewski, Piotr Waglowski, and Jacek Gajewski.
Members of ISOC Poland Chapter have led several activities crucial for the development of Polish Internet, such as “Commercial Internet in Poland”, “Internet for Schools”, and “Cities in Internet”. The main focus of ISOC Polska’s early activities were the issues of control of law-enforcement agencies over Internet users, assignment of domain names, introduction of the Polish character set to domain names, financial agreements between ISPs and users, Local Loop availability, and cooperation between main ISPs and operators.
In 2002 ISOC Polska merged with a non-formal group Action in Support of Free Software, which brought in many young, active people. Social activities between the members constituted an important addition to meritoric activities (e.g. election of “Internet Woman” or “Internet Man” of the Year). In 2003-2004, ISOC Poland Chapter took part in creating the laws on an “Education Information System” and on “Social Security”, insisting on technology neutrality in the construction of the state’s information systems. In particular, in 2004, ISOC Poland Chapter suggested correction of the law on “Informatization of State Administration”, which later was adopted by the Parliament, and in 2005-2006 it took part in the discussion against the proposal of patents for software.
In 2006, ISOC Polska published the report “Electronic Signature and Its Barriers”, pointing to related technical challenges and discrepancies in regulations. It was followed in 2007 with a position paper on elections via Internet, with ISOC Polska taking an active role in public debates related to this issue. Starting from 2006, ISOC Poland Chapter is a member of the Coalition in Favor of Open Standards, which promotes development of the information society and takes part in consultations on new legislation, whenever it is related to Internet issues, up to the level of yearly meetings with the Prime Minister and Cabinet members.