Text of my speech to the antiACTA protest in London February 11th.

Text of my speech to the antiACTA protest in London February 11th. I may have improvised on this a bit…

So this is what the Internet looks like.

Well it’s good to see you as frankly these last few years it has felt as if the Internet has been under siege. 

But now are you ready to strike back?

Just the latest example of the threat was the SOPA bill in the United States, a piece of extreme anti-Internet legislation which provoked a huge outcry. The fact that this outcry led to the derailing of SOPA was a significant victory for web freedom campaigners. Now the focus has to change to ACTA. Tens of thousands of people are coming out on to the streets across Europe in a huge wave of protest. We are seeing the birth of a European Spring in defence of digital rights and civil liberties.

Our enemies have tried to characterise us as misinformed and extreme. Yet even the Economist has described ACTA as “potentially draconian”. Are Amnesty International and Medicins sans Frontieres misinformed when they warn this treaty will harm human rights and the ability of developing countries to access generic drugs? I think not.

This treaty gives the entertainment industry significant extrajudicial power over the web. It specifies criminalising “aiding and abetting” copyright infringement  - so it takes in all Internet actors, blogs, sites, Internet service providers, even potentially links. It unleashes the copyright cops.

La Quadrature du Net has warned that this agreement paves the way for automated blocking, filtering of communications and deletion of content. No one can tell me that this will not harm freedom of expression.

We know that there is already collateral in the rights holders’ pirate hunt. 

Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer faces extradition to the US and 10 years prison just for making a site with links. I was told about yet another video that was taken down yesterday for alleged music copyright infringement. It did not have a single note of music on it. I am afraid that we will see these kind of abuses on an industrial scale with ACTA.

Speaking of music, it is very moving for me to be here at the British Music headquarters today. As an activist, as a citizen, but above all as a musician and composer. I am fed up to the back teeth with the entertainment industry pretending that they represent artists. The are self appointed fat cats that represent nothing but their own narrow self interests.

BPI you do not speak for me.

PRS you do not speak for me.

Feargal Sharkey you certainly do not speak for me.

We are continually told that there is a piracy crisis. There is no crisis. In the US more music was sold than ever before last year. In the UK sales volumes increased. This was driven by digital. Culture needs a free and functioning web. No one has shown me credible evidence that ACTA will put any more pennies in my pocket, or any one elses.

Do not let anyone tell you this treaty is for the sake of artists.

The numbers of people out on the streets in Poland have been an inspiration. We know the combination of protest and political pressure works. The Polish government has suspended the ratification process. They have been joined by the Czech republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Germany. However we can not stop here.

ACTA has only taken an arrow to the knee.

Today we must aim for the heart.

Today we must finish it off.

Can we beat ACTA?

Yes we can. Because beat it, we must.

Top 10 articles since I became Leader of Pirate Party UK

A look back over some of the things I have written on a range of subjects. Of course with a lot of support and research from Andy Halsall, Will Tovey, K’Tech and Harry Percival and all in the Pirate Party UK press team.

In the Guardian about hacktivsm and radicalisation:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/28/radical-hackers-lulzsec-governments

About social media blocking and the riots:

http://zine.openrightsgroup.org/comment/2011/how-the-government-turned-anti-social-media

About the music industry and sales figures:

http://louderthanwar.com/blogs/why-its-always-glass-half-empty-for-the-british-music-industry?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

About Newzbin and site blocking:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2011/jul/29/newzbin2-internet-censorship-bt

In Falkvinge.net on the Internet backlash in the UK:

http://falkvinge.net/2011/08/27/what-happened-to-england/

In the Guardian about Anonymous, STRATFOR and NATO:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/09/anonymous-hacktivist-expose-intelligence-gap

About Sarkozy, the eG8 and the idea of the ‘civilized Internet’:

http://zine.openrightsgroup.org/comment/2011/the-internet-natives-are-revolting

About terrorism and democracy:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/loz-kaye/more-democracy-learning-f_b_908297.html

Virgin and Sky. Our new moral guardians?:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/loz-kaye/virgin-and-sky-our-new-mo_b_1089820.html

About News International and the phone hacking scandal:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/loz-kaye/theres-hacking-and-then-t_b_895496.html

Sweet Children, World Peace and Other Reasonable Demands

It ended up being a ritual part of Yuletide. We would ask my norwegian ex-mother in law what she wanted for Christmas, and she would reply: “Søde børn og verdensfred”. Sweet children and world peace. I think candleholders normally ended up being a compromise. 

For all of us who spend time as political activists it often feels like we are asking for sweet children and world peace every day. Or in local politics, sweet neighbours and sorting out the bins. Which is no less a noble objective, and rather more practical. In a year where so much has been alarming, even threatening on the political front, I think many of us would be glad of a candle holder. At least we should be grateful for what we have achieved.

For so many in the Western world, Christmas seems to take on a huge significance. It’s easy for commentators to mock startling light displays covering people’s homes or tut about the commercialisation of a festival as folk rush to buy presents. But at the end of the day, people are just trying to capture a fleeting moment for themselves and their families in whatever way they know how. An all too short bubble where they can hope the children will be nice and there will be peace on the patch of earth they are responsible for.

Scarcely a day goes by now without activists alerting me to some possible injustice or undermining of civil liberties. Whether it is here in the UK, Egypt, Kazakhstan or on the Internet. During a chat about coming down to visit my parents for the break, my mother very wisely advised that I can’t take all the worries of the world on my shoulders. All too true, but I all too often feel like I haven’t taken on enough either. It’s with a little pang of guilt after that I tweet to a couple of party members that I could do with a few days without bad news of the world at large.

The little bubble I crave is this. Noone is planning to use watercannon and bullets on the street where I pop in to Oxfam. Noone is seriously suggesting that Internet censorship would be a way of putting a few extra pennies in my pocket as a composer. Noone is beating women on the street for making their voice heard. 

But perhaps that bubble is the point of this time too. Recharging the batteries, but also recharging the imagination. If all of that is possible in a little patch of earth, why not try and expand it a bit? Why shouldn’t children be sweet? Or at least the ones who live 5 minutes walk from where I live with real social problems have a shot at the same chances as the ones 5 minutes in the other direction? If we can’t have peace, why can’t we at least have the truth about the wars we have been waging?

It’s time to take a step back for a few days. But in the New Year, I’m damned if I’m settling for a candle holder.

Interview with Politics UK

Interview with Loz Kaye, by Politics UK 

Politics UK: Good Evening. PoliticsUK would like to welcome with Loz Kaye, Leader of the Pirate Party.

Loz:

Good evening and thanks for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it.

PUK: The Pirate Party was founded on 30 July 2009. Can you tell our users how the Pirate Party came into existence?

Loz:

The Pirate Party movement was founded in Sweden in 2006, focussing on digital rights and intellectual property reform. The controversial raiding of a facility hosting The Pirate Bay put them in the spotlight, leading to a significant victory in the 2009 European elections leaving them with 2 MEPs.

This caught the imagination of many worldwide, but also in the UK. A group including our first leader put the party together in Britain, working online. The controversial Digital Economy Act is just one example of why we are so needed in UK politics.

PUK:  How is the Pirate Party different from the big three UK Parties?

Loz:

The Pirate Party movement is the first genuinely 21st century political movement. We seek to put digital rights at the heart of the political agenda where they belong. 

As we don’t have delegate conferences, all members have a direct say in policy. This is a fundamental difference to the major parties who shy away from real debate. We remain independent of lobbyists, unions, think tanks and other special interest groups.

We believe that politicians have a duty to be open and accountable. And have a real dialogue with constituents, for example by using social media.

It is clear that it is time to restore faith in UK politics after years of expenses scandals and broken promises. It is our view that a new voice is needed to do that.

PUK: You took over the leadership of the Pirate Party from Andrew Robinson on August 2010.  How have you settled in the role of leader of the Pirate Party UK?

Loz:

In the fast moving world of 21st century politics there is no time to feel settled! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the main roles is to be the outside face of the party and communicate our message more widely. I had to hit the ground running during the end of 2010 as there was intense focus on Wikileaks. Due to our support for the project I ended up widely in the media including CNN and BBC. Since then, it has been a varied round of media, speaking at debates and rallies, writing on a range of issues.

In terms of the party we’ve seen through putting together a good team to run things, had our first full party conference, launched a new look to the website, and set off a policy process to broaden and deepen our manifesto. Of course I’m pleased to have help to steer this, but it is a collective effort and I am hugely greateful for the tireless work of all involved in the party.

In any case, it has never been dull! Personally, I feel happier than I have ever done, even if I have never been so busy.

PUK: The Pirate Party UK has three core policies. They are Privacy, Copyright & Patent Reform and Freedom of Speech.

Does the pirate party believe that there excessive surveillance, profiling, tracking and monitoring on individuals and how would you propose to change this?

Loz:

We are Europe’s most watched country, there is around one camera for every 14 people. CCTV has become ubiquitous, many of our towns and cities have a depressingly oppressive feel to them. And yet despite the claims, we are no safer. This summer’s riots show that CCTV simply does not have any significant detterrant effect. 

We would introduce law and guidelines on the acceptable use of CCTV, it must not become an excuse for unrestricted spying on the public. 

We want to put forward a whole raft of other measures to protect the individual in Britain: a full review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), strengthen data protection and bringing in a right for citizens to encrypt their personal data and communication.

PUK: How does the Pirate Party UK propose to ensure that individual have Free speech?

Loz:

Freedom of speech is fundamental to taking part in democracy and being an informed citizen. Particularly with social media and blogging we now have the possibility to express ourselves as never before. But equally the right to speak out is under threat as never before. 

This is one of the reasons we are fundamentally opposed to site blocking, as it is not a tool that we should be handing to the state, whatever the intention might be.

We would bring forward various measures. For example, we will introduce a new legal right to be a whistleblower exposing corrupt or illegal practices. Current legislation needs to be looked at too for its impact on freedom of speech. We saw in the so-called Twitter joke trial how the Communications Act was used to hound Paul Chambers for a silly joke.

It is also about raising awareness and setting freedom of the speech on the political agenda. One of the few concrete ideas that David Cameron outlined in the Commons when he finally came back to the UK in response to the riots was to announce social media curbs. I pointed out at the time this had no basis in actual evidence and was a dangerous kneejerk reaction. 

MPs like Louise Mensch clearly interpreted this as support for blanket social media blocks, as she said it would be fine to turn Twitter off for an hour or two. Setting aside the technical and practical problems with this, we now have lawmakers in the UK who explicitly support censorship- and do so without bothering to check the facts.

PUK:  What is the Pirate Party’s view on Digital Economy Act?

Loz:

The Digital Economy act is a dangerous draconian piece of legislation. In short, in the name combatting online “piracy”, ISPs will be turned in to spies on what you are doing online. Sanctions are to warn downloaders, then throttle bandwidth and ultimately disconnect. This is an unacceptable disproportionate collective punishment as entire households could be thrown off the net. It has the potential to have a chilling effect on the provision of public WiFi. And for what? At no point has any independent evidence been offered to back the claims that it will help the creative industries. We are commited to the repeal of the parts of the act that threaten the free nature of the Internet.

There are also provisions in the Act to allow site blocking, which we are also fundamentally opposed to. The government has indicated that it doesn’t intend to enact these sections. However, with current cases like BT being forced through an injunction to block Newzbin2, events have overtaken the coalition and left them powerless. 

Currently it is Hollywood dictating our digital rights policy, not Westminster and frankly this is a democratic scandal.

One of the real problems with it is it was shoved through in the final dying days of the Labour government. It is a democratic scandal that such a controversial and complicated piece of legislation was subject to the “wash up” period.’

As things stand OFCOM have said they expect the first letters to be sent out in Summer 2013. But this is not taking in to account further legal challenges, so it could well be 2014 before it is enacted- uncomfortably close to a 2015 General Election. Labour’s final poisonous gift to the people of Britain will in all probability enacted by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

To me, this is a prime example why a new party is necessary.

PUK: How does the Pirate Party propose to reform copyright and patent law?

Loz:

It’s time for a commonsense adjustment to balance the needs of consumers, creators and companies in intellectual property law.

We would reduce the duration of copyright to 10 years - reflecting the much greater ease with which works can now be made and distributed.

Our 10 year copyright length will include within it a renewal after 5 years (allowing works in which the creator is no longer interested to fall into the public domain after 5 years). An exception will be made for software, where a 5 year term will apply to closed source software and a 10 year term to open source software, in recognition of the extra rights given to the public by open source licences.

We will legalise use of copyright works where no money changes hands- so called “non commercial file sharing”.

We will allow and encourage more competition in the manufacturing of patented devices by introducing a system of compulsory patent licensing, and we will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research.

PUK: How would you respond to the argument that that the proposal to reduce the duration of copyright to 10 years is too short?

Loz:

Copyright has lost its purpose of encouraging creation and directly rewarding the creator. That the current law is not fit for purpose was explicitly acknowledged by Professor Hargreaves in the introduction to his review of copyright law produced this year. In other words- it’s not just us that sees a problem. 

Copyright terms extending 70 years after death is absurd in the digital age. It certainly isn’t going to make John Lennon write any more music. The incentive is for large companies to sit on back catalogues rather than to develop genuinely innovative new talent. Because the big players control so much of our recorded output it gives them an unfair anticompetitive stranglehold on any new services. 

This is why Spotify gives such a poor- postively homeopathic- return for artists, not because it is inherently impossible to make money online. 

Equally, the control the big players have has had a deadening effect on our cultural life.

PUK: Can you explain the loophole in the current copyright law that allows ‘restarting the clock’ and how does that affect the length of duration of copywrite?

Loz:

It’s a sneaky way of extending control yet further. It’s essentially restarting a copyright term by just shifting content to a new format or make tiny changes. We will ensure new copyrights are not created unless the new work represents a substantial change.

Some of these issues may seem a bit dry and technical- the mechanics of politics often is. But intellectual property lies at the heart of all the issues that people care the most about - the economy, health and education.

PUK: What is the Pirate Party’s view on DRM technology?

Loz:

Digital rights management is essentially about restricting the usefulness of you buy, so it is a huge consumer rights issue. DRM restricts the way you use works that you have purchased yourself. Also it forces you to use propriety software which means you don’t control what it does. Essentially these are restrictive and anticompetitive practices.

This issue will become increasingly pressing with the spread of eBooks. There will be millions of Kindles under Christmas trees round the world this year. In particular DRM on eBooks has given Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform. Currently the market share is at an alarming 80% this gives Amazon huge power to gouge profits, and squeeze authors. To my mind this must constitute a direct challenge to the functioning of the single market and at the very least the spirit of the E-Commerce Directive.

DRM means simple act of lending a book is turned in to an act of piracy. The new digital outlaws could well be mums with childrens’ books on USBs at parent and toddler groups.

If we get this wrong, we will create a new level of poverty and cement poor education outcomes for the least wll off. 

We recognise the need to raise public awareness about the issue. We believe the public needs to be protected from products that can be remotely turned off by the manufacturer, products that ‘phone home’ and would therefore stop working if the manufacturer went bankrupt, or products that are ‘region coded’. We will introduce a mandatory warning label on products that include DRM which will warn purchasers of the potential defects built into these products.

PUK: How does the Pirate Party propose to stop the abuse of patent law?

Loz:

In the current crisis, jobs, the economy and growth are uppermost everybody’s minds. Sadly innovation is being stifled as patent lawsuits are being filed not in the hope of actually developing useful ideas, but rather to earn money from the lawsuits themselves.

We will stop the abuse of patent law by raising the bar on how innovative an idea has to be before it can be patented, and by prohibiting patents on software, business methods, concepts and works of nature. We will also require a working model be provided to the patent office before a patent is granted, to put the focus on to production and innovation, rather than legal processes.

PUK: What is the Pirates Party view on drug patents and how would your policy improve the availability of drug?

Loz:

As a nation we can no longer afford to subsidise the profits of pharmaceutical companies via the NHS. Every time you hear about a drug that the NHS can’t afford ask yourself who is making the profit.

We will abolish drug patents, which will reduce drug costs drastically, since all drugs will become generic. This will save the NHS vast sums of money; part of that saving will then be used to subsidise drug research. The pharmaceutical industry currently spends around 15% of its patent drug income on research; we will replace that with subsidies to the value of 20%, increasing research budgets, while still saving the NHS money.

PUK:  What aspects of you manifesto is most important to the Pirate Party?

Loz:

I think it’s fair to say that the key priorities at the moment are site-blocking and the Digital Economy Act as they are the most pressing threats.

Purely personally though, I would say our commitment to defend freedom of speech, as everything else flows from this. 

PUK: What is the difference between the Pirate Party’s UK and Scottish manifesto?

The Scottish manifesto and campaigns are first and foremost a matter for Scottish members. The political lanscape in Scotland is very different, and in my opinion, in many ways much healthier.

Loz:

Much of the differences are the focus on specific Scottish issues - such as concerns about centralised databases tied to National Entitlement Cards and pushing for the adoption of the recommendations in the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s ‘Digital Scotland Report’ to upgrade Scotland’s digital infrastructure. However the core principle is very much the same, as it is for the Pirate Party movement internationally too.

PUK: The Pirate Party pledges to ensure that the Internet remains neutral and open. How would you go about this?

Loz:

 We have pledged to legislate in favour of net neutrality. 

There are already examples of best practice in terms of this kind of law from the Netherlands for example.

In certain quarters there has been resistance to this idea, chiefly expressed as it would be regulation that would hamper business. In fact the reverse is true, we are seeking to maintain a level playing field for all on the Internet, so big companies can not stifle startups and the exchange of information. 

PUK: who are your core supporters?

Loz:

Not surprisingly, much of our core support is people with computing and engineering background. Far from being the “freetards” as it is so offensively put, these are the people that are actually delivering you the Internet as you know it. That is why it’s worth listening to them when they say that we risk damaging the free and open nature of the web with heavy handed legislation.

Even so we are also DJs, ex forces, students, lecturers, council workers. My background is as a composer and musician- so I know at first hand that current intellectual property law is very far from being about supporting individual artists.

I am particularly proud of the role that young people play in our party. I am sick to death of terms like “feral youth”. In education having high expectations is key. If we keep telling our young people they are disfunctional and they are to be excluded from public spaces and life, they will live up to those expectations.

We fielded 2 candidates aged 19 at GE 2010. If you are old enough to die for your country, you are certainly old enough to have an active say in how it is run.

PUK: What side of the political spectrum do you see your party on?

Loz:

We are not a party of the left or right. For us the important starting point is facts, not a little red, orange or blue book. The political landscape we have now means that so many of the 20th century ideas about the left/right spectrum are no longer relevant. To us the authoritarian/libertarian part of the political compass is as important, with us tending to the libertarian.

This may sound a bit glib, but it’s actually hugely practical because it allows us to seek influence wherever it is most useful. I can write for Lib Dem voice without having to be a big L liberal. I can talk to the digital policy coordinator from the Tax Payers Alliance about getting the Tories to see the importance of digital rights, unhampered by the typical left wing “the TPA are all evil” point of view. Even though some of our interests might be classed as classically left wing.

PUK: How many candidates do you hope to field in the next couple of years and which constituencies will your primarily be aiming for?

Loz:

Our current candidate pool is 20, double the numbers we have had before.

We continue to seek new candidates, so now is a great time to join in and put yourself forward. If you are independent minded, interested in politics and think real change is necessary we are the right place for you.

PUK: Who are your political inspirations?

Loz:

I think it was interesting that Time’s person of the year was the protester. In the networked world, the actions of the many rather than the few are becoming increasingly important. My inspiration is any ordinary person that stands up and refuses to accept that this is as good as it gets. That refuses to accept that politics is irretrievably broken, so it’s not worth getting involved. 

Having said that, I continue to be inspired by Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate Party movement’s founder and “political evangelist”. I think many of us at PP-UK’s conference this year were moved and fired up by his keynote speech.  He continues to articulate well the ideas of our worldwide movement. You can find him on Facebook too. 

PUK: Where do you see your party in 6 months, a year 3 years and after the next GE?

Loz:

My vision is this.

In 6 months we will have fought council elections on a new broader manifesto, demonstrating what we have to offer on a local level as well as our national ideas.

In a year we will have learnt the lessons from May 2012 elections so activists on the ground will be ready to fight the next set of elections. We will have increased our profile yet further. We will have fielded at least one candidate for the police commissioner elections so the electorate will have a chance to vote for someone putting civil liberties and accountability on the agenda.

Three years is interesting. As things stand the Digtal Economy Act will be enacted, I suspect in early 2014 allowing for final legal wrangling. We will be pointing out that despite good intentions, the Liberal Democrats will have proved themselves impotent on digital rights, just as they have been impotent on tuition fees and Europe.

After the General Election digital rights will be firmly part of the mainstream political agenda and something that moves votes. We will have fielded more candidates than GE 2010, with better experienced teams. 

All this said, all of this is up to the party. We regularly reelect our National Executive Committee so all members have a say. I think this is only healthy, and reflects the way the rest of the “real world” works.

Social Media: From Social Life to Social Change

How are social media changing the way social movements operate?

TRANSFORMATION

Social media has, in a short time, profoundly transformed the way so many of us interact as social beings. It’s no surprise then it has also transformed our political life. But this has not so much been in the way mainstream parties function, but in an explosion of grass roots activism. What has happened is a kind of conceptual hacking of the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Services set up as social in the sense of organising your social life have become social in the sense of powering movements for social change.

The chief strength that social media has for political grassroots is its disruptive power- it is decentralised, quick and anarchic. The main media task of party elites recently has been to manage news and control political life. In the social media age this is no longer possible. It is this loss of control that challenges capitals whether they are Cairo or Brussels.

INFORMATION

One thing that unites many strands of on the face of it disparate grass roots movements - from populists to occupiers- is lack of trust in the mainstream media. One of the recurring phrases of activists is “be the media”. Twitter allows us to do this instantly. The combination of social media with handheld devices means that reports complete with photographs can be circulated with a click. It is this function as an information bearer that has social media’s strength. This was its key role in the Arab spring - of breaking the wall of silence about protests and repression . The occupy movement has been very effective of coupling the use of social media with video and live streaming. YouTube footage of an Iraq War veteran having his skull fractured by a police flash grenade at an Occupy Oakland demonstration raced round the world before larger news outlets caught up. For many now twitter, google plus and the rest are the first port of call fot the day’s news rather than state broadcasters or the Murdoch press.

ORGANISATION

Social media also has many organisational advantages for grass roots movements. Not least that it is easy, cheap and you don’t need an office. You just need a smart phone. Equally it is already part of the fabric of many people’s lives - so political engagement is not a discrete ringfenced activity , but starts to become a part of a way of being. Social media has allowed a fluid reactive type of organisation to build up.

In a 24 hour breaking news environment speed is critical. Instant reporting on demonstrations allows people to join and support at a minutes notice, this was crucial in the Occupy London for example particularly in the establishment of the camp at St Pauls .Groups like UKuncut have grown up entirely on Twitter targeting corporate greed with a style that owes more to the flash mob than any party handbook.

It does also allow for more strategic organisation. - the publicising of events, demonstrations and meetings.

But perhaps the chief organisational strength is that of creating networks- which after all is at the heart of how social media functions. At the time I was working on this on Saturday @OccupyWallSt had a staggering 103,000 plus followers - more than the leader of the UK Labour party .

One of the fascinating developments is how social media has facilitated more diverse networks. Hacktivists, hippies and Military veterans are all starting to play a key role in the occupy movement in the US. The american @occupyMarines twitter feed is a startling combination of radical politics and gungho military jargon.

Of course these like minded people come in all types and , yes, also right wing extremists. I have seen this at first hand in Manchester where I live- the EDL lesbian and gay group used Facebook to organise a meet where they were significantly outnumbered by antifascist activists.

REACTION

The question is what reaction that states take to this explosion of activity. Alarmingly the trend is towards greater surveillance and control. The very fact that social media operates in a virtual public space is its great advantage, but it also allows for greater ease of tracking. In the wake of the disturbances in the UK this summer this has already reached an absurd degree. The longest sentences coming out of the riots were not for arson or looting, but 4 years for inciting to riot on Facebook. This was for supposedly encouraging a riot that never happened.

One of the few concrete announcements in the recalled parliament after the riots by the British PM was this:

“Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them…. ”

This might seem reasonable until you ask what Mr Cameron wanted in actual policy. It was widely understood as support for social media blocking. Member of Parliament Louise Mensch said it would be fine to block Twitter for “an hour or two”. This was a grave moment, we now have European law makers who explicitly believe in the censorship of the free web. Mensch’s idea raises worrying questions- who is responsibe for calling for a block, and ending it? How would this work technically? When does an hour or 2 become a day or two?

It is this blanket restrictive approach that was articulated in the UK’s Prevent strategy for dealing with domestic terrorism. In the context of this conference it is worth observing that the section dealing with the potential threat of right wing extremism is woefully underwritten. But what it does expand on is the notion that the Internet is inherrently dangerous. It states that “Internet filtering across the public estate is essential” a statement as chilling as it is impractical.

It is these very threats to freedom of speech that is causing people to find new political routes to fight back. The threat to social media is part of a wider picture- it is the Pirate Party’s analysis that the web is under siege. From site blocking; 3 strikes legislation directed by big media lobbyists; Sarkozy’s insistance on civilising the web . This is a cause of growing and frankly justified anger.If we continue down this path we will radicalise an entire generation.

This year we have seen the poison of the European far right in the horrific events on Utøya. To call Breivik part of a populist movement seems wrong to me- he was alone in his act of cold blooded murder. But Norwegian PM Stoltenberg’s response was clear - “more democracy, more openness”. This has to be the response to online radicalisation - otherwise our democratic ideals are exposed as paper thin.

Assange Ruling

"Today’s ruling shows that we can be spirited across Europe without charge for a DNA test. It is time for a fundamental reassessment of the proportionality of the European Arrest Warrant. 

The person of Julian Assange has been the subject of a great deal of controversy. But the Wikileaks project is larger than any one person. At the Pirate Party we continue to support the rights of whistleblowers, and the goal of a truly transparent democracy.”

Loz Kaye 

Leader Pirate Party UK

You may have been watching the party conference season. At PPUK we don’t need an expensive conference protected by security or intrusive vetting. We welcome discussion rather than shutting it down on key issues like the NHS, or run “debates” where only one side is heard. All of you are welcome to join in our public consultation. Friends not in a political party- your chance to have your say. Friends in other parties- have the discussion you are denied elsewhere, and by all means steal our policies.

http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy2011