This weekend I joined the Pirate Party Switzerland. I feel that the pirate parties of the world best represent my political interests as a digital citizen. Some of the green or green-liberal parties in Switzerland also have a reasonable technical agenda, but I think what they lack a bit is know-how. The Pirate Party is full of geeks like you and I, we can do something about the short-sightedness of tech decisions by the other parties.
Some of the core ideas that I believe this party will add to the political playing field:
Stop Big Content and the Copyright Mafia from taking away even more of people’s rights. Big Content has been crying like a sissy ever since digital copying became possible. Instead of realizing that their business model is outdated, they used their massive lobbying power to influence and bribe politicians into cutting further into people’s rights, all in the name of holy entertainment profit. Even though their claims of losses due to “piracy” are based on a calculation that doesn’t make sense (they assume that each copied work represents one lost sale, which is nonsense), they seem to receive more laws the louder they trumpet these numbers. This has to stop.
The games industry is facing a similar transition (no more games sold in boxes in a store, things are moving all digital now), but the games industry has foreseen the trend and is adapting its business model. Why should the governments of the world change laws just because the content industry was too stupid to react in time?
- Support a totally transparent government. We need to know about politicians’ conflicts of interest, we need to know government people’s wages, we need to see exactly how a decision was ignited, how it was changed and by whom and how it is put into place. The Pirate Party can not only supply ideas and start motions in this direction, but its members can also serve as technology counsellors to make this possible.
- Fight the erosion of privacy. Governments and corporations are increasingly removing people’s privacy. CCTV/camera systems, biometric passports, easily trackable RFID tags, genetic fingerprint databases. Read a bunch of science-fiction books to see where this could be leading us. But governments aren’t the only ones to blame, with people cheerfully surrendering their most private details to companies like Facebook, Inc. Laws need to be in place to severely punish abuse of personal data. Any activities by the government that would lead to even further loss of privacy, without any clear benefit, need to be opposed. The terrorism craze has made people gullible and blindly accept giving up privacy in the name of “fighting terrorism”, but people don’t stop to think about whether the laws imposed on them actually work in this way.
- Oppose patents and monopolies. Microsoft’s OS dominance isn’t the only globally harmful monopoly that is in place right now. Software patents pose a threat that we can’t even estimate at this time. Monopolies must be reduced, patents must be reexamined.
- New copyright laws. The developments of the last ten years have shown that current copyright laws are completely inadequate to deal with humans’ ways of treating copyrighted works. Sharing (for non-commercial purposes) of copyrighted material must be as legal as it used to be, or even more. DRM systems and region coding, which gives content producers artificial muscle to discriminate against certain areas of the world, must be forbidden by law.
- Violence in media must be discussed, not forbidden in a blind panic. Violent video games are not satan. Violent films and books have been around for hundreds of years before these video games appeared, yet overall violence in society has decreased. The current witch hunt against “killer games” is nonsense. Instead, we need to sit down and talk about a reasonable approach and solutions to violence in media, and we need to work on systems to find out why people feel so mistreated by the current school system or by their work environments that the only solution they see is to kill others and end their own lives. We need to treat this problem at its root. Most politicians’ strategies around violence in media have all the grace of a panicked chicken.
- Open standards. Because closed ones are none.
If you’re curious about these and other issues on the Pirate Party’s agenda, please see our Parteiprogramm on the Pirate Party wiki. It’s also available in French, but not in English, unfortunately.
I believe the Pirate Party brings a perspective to politics that has been woefully underrepresented so far and that none of the other parties can cover adequately, because it’s outside of their focus.
Update: If you want to join a Pirate Party in your own country, see the list at Pirate Party International.