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Tuesday, 8 April, 2014 - 11:30

The Court of Justice of the European Union today declared that the Data Retention Directive is incompatible with the Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights after a reference by Irish and Austrian courts.

The Court found that the Directive "entails an interference with the fundamental rights of practically the entire European population", concluding that there is a "is there a general absence of limits" in the legislation.

The Pirate Party are calling for the complete abolition of the Data Retention Directive and similar laws in the United Kingdom and across the European Union...

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The UK and EU - Taking A View From Stockholm

Loz Kaye's picture

Sometimes it's good to take a step to see things more clearly. I started writing this in Stockholm after being invited to the official election campaign launch for Sweden's Pirate Party. It was their success in '09 that kickstarted so much interest in the Pirate Party movement.

So it was good to take a moment to remember that.

But also it was worth taking a step away from the already poisonous atmosphere in the run up to the European elections in Britain. Other British party leaders chose to kick their campaigns off bickering with their enemies. We chose to kick it off talking with our friends out in Europe about what we have achieved.

And the Pirate Party has delivered way more for the British people than UKIP has for instance. And that's even without any British MEPs. Think what we could achieve with a candidate like Maria Aretoulaki in Brussels.

Seeking Ruby Developers!

Ed Geraghty's picture

We may have a new website, but that is just the start of our plans to open up politics.  In association with Lancaster University, we want to take the lessons we learnt in our "Policy Alpha" project which ran on reddit, twitter and elsewhere, and formed our manifesto in 2012, and take it to the next step: Policy Beta.

About Policy Beta

Policy Beta is our next big IT project.  We want to create a digital platform for citizens to network, generate ideas, debate issues, and vote on the policies that we will adopt.  It's going to be our way of deciding the Party's direction and with that, the pressure we put on government.  Policy Beta will do what we did manually in Policy Alpha back in 2011/12 and much more. It will be a custom fit, open source platform for crowdsourcing public policy.

But its not just for us: As a way of crowdsourcing ideas, Policy Beta will deal with the lack of participation in the way political parties and, indeed, modern democracies work when it comes to gathering ideas.  It will be an open source platform, which means anyone will be able to make use of it, extend it or help us to improve it.

We'd like you to join us and our partners at Lancaster University to get this project across the line.  Right now we are looking for developers, but as with our other large IT projects, there will be lots of stuff you can get involved with!

Free speech victory as Wonga backs down on parody copyright claim

Adrian Short's picture

Payday lender Wonga has backed down on its attempt to remove a parody advert criticising them from Twitter after thousands of users (and the Pirate Party UK) defied the company by reposting the picture.

Wonga said:

"We accept that we were a little heavy-handed last week when we issued a Twitter Takedown notice for @BrandySnap's image, and having seen the full ‘Streisand Effect’ ourselves, we won’t be pursuing the notice"

The Streisand effect occurs when an attempt to remove or cover up information leads to it gaining significantly more attention than it would have done otherwise.

Wonga was on shaky legal ground by using a copyright claim under the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to ask Twitter to remove the image, although Twitter complied at first. Parody and criticism are protected as "fair use" under US copyright law.

George Walkden : Clinical trials and tribulations: a role for Europe

It’s hard to imagine a better fairy-tale villain than a big pharma company. There’s something undeniably sinister about these vast, faceless titans with their unfathomable methods and international reach; so much so that it’s sometimes an effort to remember that, actually, they’re the ones who develop and mass-produce the drugs we use to stay alive. For that we owe them thanks – but let’s not get sentimental about it. These companies are still companies, and they have their own agendas and priorities, which often end up in conflict with those of the average mortal.

One instance of this conflict is the pharma companies’ vice-like grip, via patents, on the production of newly-developed drugs. This can put heavy financial pressure on health services, particularly in developing countries. Another conflict, which is the focus of this article, involves the publication of clinical trial data. Clinical trials are carried out on a massive scale as part of the process of bringing a new drug onto the market: the trials are meant to determine whether the drug is effective and safe, and whether patients would benefit from being prescribed it.

The problem, as Ben Goldacre clearly demonstrates in his excellent book Bad Pharma, is that the decision whether or not to publish the results of a given trial is determined by factors that are anything but scientific. Most worryingly, there is a strong bias towards publishing only positive results: if a trial’s results are negative, or inconclusive, there is a much higher likelihood that they will be stuffed into someone’s desk drawer and never see the light of day. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to industry-sponsored studies, but it certainly seems to be much worse there: a 2006 review found that 78% of industry-sponsored studies showed positive results for the drug in question, while only 48% of independently-funded studies came up with a favourable outcome. Hardly surprising given that pharma companies stand to gain from presenting their drug in the best possible light, but deeply worrying.

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