July / August 2011 Round Up
We have seen one of the most intense months I have ever experienced in British politics. Recent weeks have shown that our voice is more needed than ever.UK Riots
We have all been shocked by the scenes of arson, looting and violence on the streets of our country over recent days.
This is a very difficult time for our politics, given there has been a rather ugly backlash in the country. Not least because in a depressingly familiar pattern technology has been given some of the blame with the scapegoating of social media and services such as Blackberry Messenger. The Prime Minister's statement made it clear that we can expect further crackdowns. Nevertheless, there is a big opportunity for us to take the initiative and stand up for civil liberties while Nick Clegg continues to confine his dissent to just looking uncomfortable whilst sitting on the front bench.
I have written a response to the Government's worrying knee-jerk reaction for the ORG website:http://zine.openrightsgroup.org/comment/2011/how-the-government-turned-anti-social-mediaHackgate
During July it felt like the fabric of our public life was coming apart with the revelations of "Hackgate". As a party we have been long pointing out the toxic influence that News International has had on our politics, and the problems with the BSkyB bid, not least given they are one of the country's largest Internet service providers. Working to preserve the free flow of information that is vital for an informed democracy is wider than looking at laws passed in Westminster, it is also about looking in to the business culture of our media.
I had an interview on the subject, which shows that the media are now beginning to see that we have contributions to make on a variety of issues, not just file-sharing:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNJho0ZhcH4Newzbin
The last few weeks have been very up and down for digital rights. One of the low points was the Newzbin2 judgement, forcing BT to block the site. A terrible precedent to set, which could see a flood of similar cases. I set out objections in the
I had a rather heated debate on the subject on BBC News with a representative from FACT. I accused the outcome of being cynical for using CleanFeed system intended for child protection. FACT accused me of being cynical for bringing it up.
Even so, the Government announced that they were planning to implement the Hargreaves review- which includes one of our key manifesto points of allowing format shifting, and dropping the web-blocking elements of the Digital Economy Act.
The fact that the Government has accepted that restrictive Intellectual Property laws can harm business and culture is encouraging and gives us something to work with. However, just a few days on the opposing web-blocking promises seem hollow.Website
Away from the media, the major piece of work for the Party during July has been to launch a new website landing page and content. From our research many people commented that they like what we stand for, but found it difficult to get the information they need from the website. We have already had good feedback about the new look, and stats already show people are spending more time on the site. many thanks to the IT team for their work, and we will continue to adjust.
For me, the key thing is that the content is right, and that we show that we are really connecting with a wide public- our ideas are for sharing after all. Wikileaks / Assange
I attended the High Court hearings of Julian Assange's appeal against the European arrest warrant. As ever, I would point out that our interest as a Party has always been in the Wikileaks project and defending whistleblowers. This is a bigger project than any one person. One thing that shocked me was how little the reports in the papers related to the actual substance of what took place in court. There are real causes for concern about the European arrest warrant. A key element for the prosecution was that one of the key functions of the warrant was to obtain DNA. At one point the judges expressed obvious irritation with the entire proceedings, that the whole case should have been dealt with in a much better and cooperative way by all concerned. I think I share this view, and I am left with the feeling that we need to look at extradition law thoroughly.The Party
We continue to bring new blood in to the teams working for the Party. It's great to have Phil Cooke on the NEC as Nominating Officer. It's a vital role making sure the everyday housekeeping is working. I am also happy to see Jack Allnutt coming in as Deputy Campaigns officer, having worked with him in the North West region. And we have board elections ahead of us too.
Clearly, we all have our work cut out for us coming in to the Autumn if we are to stop the UK lurching ever further towards authoritarianism. I am proud of the principled stand we take.
How the Pirate Party Aims to Shake Up Digital Politics:http://thenextweb.com/uk/2011/07/09/how-the-pirate-party-aims-to-shake-up-digital-politics/
More Democracy: Learning From Norway's Response to Terrorhttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/loz-kaye/more-democracy-learning-f_b_908297.html
Anger as judge forces BT to block pirate sitehttp://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/368938/anger-as-judge-forces-bt-to-block-pirate-sitel
Guardian: Newzbin2 Filesharing Verdict Industry Reactionshttp://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jul/28/newzbin2-filesharing-verdict-industry-reactions
Documents Show Digital Economy Act Was a Done Deal All Alonghttp://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2098344/documents-digital-economy-act-dea
Digital Economy Act "unworkable"http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2011/aug/3/digital-economy-act-unworkable/
London Riots: Our Fractured Societyhttp://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2011/aug/8/london-riots-our-fractured-society/