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Think Twice Three: A Conference for Online Freedom and Global Cooperation

9 August, 2017 - 09:00

The next Think Twice conference (TT3) will be held from March 2-4, 2018 in Jerusalem.

This is a guest post by PPI – written by Keith Goldstein (PPI Treasurer). 

This gathering will bring together academics, business people, non-profit and government officials, as well as activists in general who are concerned about creating a fair and free internet. The event is sponsored by Pirate Parties International, spearheaded by a collaboration of the Israeli and German Pirate Parties. However, TT3 is not just a Pirate event. Rather, we are opening our doors to the wider community, where we seek to create a lively debate about necessary innovations to such topics as online democracy, net neutrality, copyrights, and human rights.

Registration is Open

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Registration for TT3 is now open. If you are interested in attending the event, please go to the PPI website and fill out an application for speaking, presenting, volunteering or attending. A wide variety of forums will be presented over the period, such as a hackathon, a panel on “Redefining Government Responsibility in Online Environments”, and poster presentations. All participants are encouraged to be involved in organizing workshops and other activities. Space will be limited, and there is a rolling acceptance of speakers.

 

Why Jerusalem?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirates are no strangers to controversy and hosting a conference in Jerusalem is a provocative statement. We seek to bridge conflicts, to bring together diverse people who can openly and freely discuss political sensitive opinions – whether in online forums or physically in the confines of a conference. Pirates are searching for answers to difficult problems of human rights, and Jerusalem provides a unique atmosphere where we can debate how to enact peaceful resolutions of conflict. Likewise, this will be the first multinational Pirate conference outside Europe. Jerusalem is a physical bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa. More so, it is a symbolic bridge of interconnectedness on this planet. By hosting TT3 in Jerusalem, we will be making a monumental statement about the need to create dialogue in the middle east. While all of the major world powers have exacerbated conflict, it is incumbent for the Pirates to create a meaningful forum to seriously debate issues resonating out of Jerusalem.

I Can’t Attend But Would Love To Be Involved

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I wish I could attend, but I don’t have the money or time to get to Jerusalem.’ No worries, we will be live streaming the conference on Youtube and Mumble. We will also be opening live online forums where users abroad can interact with the conference. If you are interested in staying up to date about information relating to the conference, please sign up for our mailing list.

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Be A Sponsor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Align your organization with this conference! Sponsors should support some of the ideals established within the resolutions of PPI, such as access to medicine, fair and balanced copyright, net neutrality, basic income, the right to privacy, public transparency, global democracy, and denouncement of unjust penal codes. All sponsor requests will be considered by the board of PPI. Opportunities are available to set up an exhibitor’s booth, to sell merchandise, and to advertise your organization on the conference website and booklets. Please read more about the various sponsorship opportunities at pp-international/tt3, and fill out a form at the PPI website . Sponsors may also provide hardware and other needs for the event, such as live feed internet set up, projectors, sound boards and printouts.

We look forward to informing you more about TT3!

Featured Image : CC0
Other Images: CC0

 

Categories: International

EU Court rules on transparency of EU justice

18 July, 2017 - 17:29

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg today ruled in favour
of the German civil liberties activist and pirate party member Patrick
Breyer (Commission vs. Breyer, C-213/15 P):[1] It ordered the Commission
to give the press and the public access to the pleadings exchanged in
completed court proceedings. In the present case Breyer successfully
demanded the Commission disclose Austrian pleadings concerning the
non-transposition of the controversial EU Data Retention Directive.
However the Court fined Breyer for publishing the written submissions in
his own case on his homepage.[2]

“Today’s ruling confirms that the EU‘s judicial system is lacking
transparency and in urgent need of reform”, comments Breyer. “Since EU
judges appear to consider transparency in pending proceedings a threat,
the EU needs to revise the Court rules in accordance with those
applicable to the European Court of Human Rights. Indifferently
prohibiting parties from publishing pleadings – including their own – is
inaceptable and endangers the freedom of the press.

This judgement turns important cases with potentially far-reaching
implications for every one of us into secret proceedings. In landmark
cases the press and the public should not be faced with irreversible
facts. Protecting our governments’ and institutions’ conduct in court
from public criticism and control contradicts the concept of democratic
oversight and freedom of the press.

This in-transparency fosters mistrust instead of building trust in times
of the EU experiencing a crisis of acceptance. Justice needs openness.
More transparency is for example needed where EU Courts deal with mass
surveillance programmes such as blanket data retention. The
admissibility of such interferences in our civil liberties is of general
interest. The arguments and applications put forward by our governments
in court need to be subjected to public scrutiny.”

Background:

As the ECJ does not grant access to written submissions, Breyer in 2011
asked the Commission to disclose Austrian pleadings concerning the
non-transposition of the controversial EU Data Retention Directive. The
Court of First Instance ruled in favour of Breyer and the Commission
disclosed the pleadings[3] but filed an appeal against the judgement.
The ECJ rejected this appeal today.

Advocate General Bobek in December proposed broadening access to Court
documents:[4] Documents ought to be made available upon request, in both
closed as well as, to a more limited extent, in pending cases. Advocate
General Bobek also suggested that pleadings could be routinely published
on the Internet. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg
already grants access to written submissions upon request.

Patrick Breyer is a digital rights activist and a Pirate Party member in Germany. He has won court cases earlier where one of them decided that IP addresses are deemed personal data.

Footnotes:

[1] Official press release:
https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2017-07/cp170080en.pdf

[2] Case file (in German): http://www.patrick-breyer.de/?p=561245

[3] Pleadings disclosed by the Commission after the judgement in first
instance: http://www.patrick-breyer.de/?p=561245#Neubescheid

[4] Advocate General Bobek proposes broader access to Court documents,
https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2016-12/cp160141en.pdf

Featured image: CC-BY-NC-SA, jeroen020

Categories: International

Privacy Shield: the American Lobbying Invasion

12 July, 2017 - 19:51

It is difficult to know the true extent to which American corporate interests and the US government continue to lobby the European Union and its member states on the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement. In March of this year, public records requests about Privacy Shield were sent to data protection authorities across the European Union. To date, the vast majority of EU data protection authorities have failed to release public records on Privacy Shield.

Lobbying by American Corporate Interests

American corporations, such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter, use the Privacy Shield framework as the legal basis to transfer personal data from the European Union to the United States. Civil society groups [1, 2, 3, 4] have criticized the Privacy Shield’s many flaws and lack of basic protection for personal data. Even the EU’s own parliament has been critical of the agreement. The Article 29 Working Party, the group of EU data protection authorities, has also expressed serious concern and doubt about Privacy Shield. Perhaps the most glaring inadequacy of the Privacy Shield agreement is that it allows for NSA mass surveillance, in violation of EU law.

The European Union has a voluntary lobbying register. Google, Microsoft, BusinessEurope, and DigitalEurope are four of the top eight lobbying organizations by number of meetings with EU officials, according to Integrity Watch. The transparency register lists Google and Microsoft as being members of BusinessEurope and DigitalEurope. The transparency register also lists Google and Microsoft estimating their annual spending on EU lobbying as between €4 and €5 million Euros each. BusinessEurope lists its estimated annual spending on the low side of €4 million Euros, while DigitalEurope is spending approximately €1.9 million Euros a year.

There has been a massive lobbying campaign by American corporate interests on Privacy Shield in the EU. In addition to spending on lobbying, the transparency register also lists meetings between EU officials and lobbyists. In January of 2016, a couple months after the EU Court of Justice struck down Safe Harbor (the framework before Privacy Shield), Microsoft met separately with EU Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vera Jourova on the issue.

American technology companies such as Adobe, Apple, Amazon. AT&T, Cisco, Facebook (subsidiary in Ireland), General Electric, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Symantec, and Yahoo! have lobbied EU officials on the EU’s data protection standards. Several American financial services companies, including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Mastercard, have also lobbied EU officials on data protection standards. Trade industry groups representing American corporate interests have also partaken in this lobbying effort. The American Chamber of Commerce, the Business Software Alliance, BusinessEurope, and DigitalEurope are also listed as meeting with and lobbying EU officials on Privacy Shield.

Since the EU’s transparency registry is completely voluntary and there are few sanctions for violations, some meetings with EU officials and additional spending on lobbying may have never been registered. The American lobbying invasion may actually be much larger than the records on the EU’s transparency register suggest.

US Embassy Gets Involved

The US government is also engaged in lobbying EU member states to accept the Privacy Shield agreement. In January of 2016, the US embassy sent the Danish data protection authority (Datatilsynet) an email warning that legal uncertainty about personal data transfers from the EU to the US could harm business. The US embassy goes on to state that the EU should not solve the problem by hosting servers and storing data in the EU. The email also rather comically insinuates a denial of some aspects of NSA spying by stating, “The allegations underlying the Schrems case about U.S. privacy law and intelligence practices were based on mistaken assumptions and outdated information.” The Datatilsynet confirms that there was a meeting in May 2016 between their office, the Danish Ministry of Justice, the US embassy, and the US Department of Commerce about the Privacy Shield agreement.

In January of last year, the US embassy sent an email thanking the Slovenian data protection authority (IPRS) for meeting the week earlier. Several days later, the US embassy sent IPRS and the Slovenian Ministry of Justice a rather ominous email. The email warns, “It is imperative to conclude a revised U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement now, or risk harm to economic growth and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as damage to the broader transatlantic relationship.” The email also pressures Slovenia to direct EU Commissioner Vera Jourova to approve a new agreement to replace Safe Harbor. The US embassy also sent documents to the IPRS, which the IPRS is refusing to release.

The data protection authority of Italy confirms receiving communication from the US embassy about Privacy Shield. The data protection authorities in Finland, Germany, Latvia, Romania, and Sweden deny receiving emails from the US embassy about Privacy Shield. The data protection authority of Austria refuses to confirm or deny if it ever received emails. In response to questions about the possible existence of emails, the data protection authority of Luxembourg (CNPD) had a rather bizarre reply. The CNPD stated that Luxembourg does not have a freedom of information law. In addition, the CNPD refused to answer questions about the US embassy by citing Luxembourg data protection laws.

For now, the true extent of American lobbying remains behind closed doors.

The text of this article is released into the public domain. You are free to translate and republish the text of this article. Featured picture is obtained from the US Department of Commerce.

Categories: International

A Just Future Starts at the Local Level

10 July, 2017 - 07:42

Jelle de Graaf is the first elected official for the Pirate Party in the Netherlands, in the borough of Amsterdam West. The Pirate Party Amsterdam recently elected him as their political leader for the municipal elections in march 2018. Earlier this month he visited the Fearless Cities Conference at the municipalism movement in Barcelona.

Cities are gaining power. When national governments fall short local leaders show courage. It’s happening all over the world. When Donald Trump left the Paris Accords, the cities of the United States, from Democratic Pittsburgh to Republican San Diego, took responsibility. Sanctuary cities like San Francisco protect the rights of their people, also if they, according to the federal government, don’t have the right paperwork.

In Europe, Mediterranean cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Naples lead the charge for strong local governments. Naples is building a cooperative and democratic city. Barcelona shows that local communities don’t automatically have to lose against the economic forces of mass tourism. Not only are cities taking back control, in more and more places people are taking back control of their cities. An international municipalism movement is gaining ground.

In the beginning of June I visited the Fearless Cities Conference in Barcelona. Around 700 active citizens, activists and open-minded elected representatives from all over the world came together to discuss municipalism. The term refers to political organization based on assemblies of neighborhoods, practicing direct democracy, which would be organized in a system of free communes or municipalities, as an alternative to the centralized state. In Barcelona people with radically different backgrounds, from social workers who work in the slums of Capetown to women rights activist in the autonomous region Rovaja in Syria, came together to start a dialogue. While one participant might be building a green and sustainable future and others are fighting house-evictions or institutional racism, everyone was working on the same overarching municipalist project. All participants are achieving a better world by working on a local level in an inclusive, consensus-based, democratic way with a focus on local communities and their wishes.

For me the Pirate movement has always been about democratization and the decentralization of power. Subsidiarity, decision making on the lowest level possible, is a central concept in the ideas of the Pirate movement and has been at the core of my work in the borough of Amsterdam West. Not only is there the democratic argument that the people that are most influenced by a decision should be the ones making it, there’s also the practical reality that people are much more likely to solve issues together on local level.

Municipalism works. When you open up and actually talk to people, instead of yelling one-liners at them, radical policy is possible. Even on big polarized issues. Madrid and Barcelona declared their towns ‘Refugee Cities’ and opened them up to 15.000 refugees. If this can happen with broad support in a city with huge housing problems like Barcelona, where a couple of years earlier thousands of people a month were evicted from their houses, it can happen anywhere.

By empowering the commons, and focusing on all those co-operations and active citizens who are already working on green-initiatives, radically green progress is possible with the support of the people. By going at it together, in an open dialogue, long-abandoned progressive policy goals that seem impossible to achieve in the traditional political arena suddenly turn probable again.

The success of the municipalist movement in southern Europe strengthens my believe that as Pirates, much more then we’ve been doing in recent years, the local level is where we should focus our efforts. While municipalism, of course, isn’t the answer to every world problem, it might be a way to break out of the polarized political landscape we’re in right now. We can start working on the tackling of big issues like climate change, the erosion of civil rights and growing social and economical inequality.

The municipalist movement shows us there’s a viable alternative to both the extremism of the far right or the political stalemate of the traditional parties. An inclusive, sustainable and just future starts at the local level.

Featured image: CC-BY-NC-SA, ZEMOS 98

Categories: International

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