Its the end of the first day of the Pirate Parties International Conference, so its natural to ask "what has been accomplished? " At the opening of the first day, Pirates took an 'open space' approach to let them get some work done, they put together an agenda for the day's groups and split out into groups based on what they were interested in and got on with it. The groups covered everything from methods in dealing with pro-Copyright Lobbying and the future of PPI through to crypto-parties and the future of Europe wide Pirate policy making.
Sadly for those watching the live stream the action was sparse as the conference split off into groups. Twitter updates varied between people asking delegates to wave as they wandered past, to posts criticising the PPI.
At the end of the day, a lot of ideas were communicated back to the whole conference and those watching - I won't cover all of it here (no doubt we will see something from the PPI or the groups in due course).
The first group that reported back had looked at how to best fight against copyright industry lobbyists. This is about as core as it gets in terms of Pirate issues!
They came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to campaign against the misconceptions the copyright industry uses to dupe policymakers and the public. The gist was that whilst the lobbyists and their patrons were very rich, we aren't and way to combat the misconceptions was to use the truth: To run a face to face campaigns, to talk to people and disprove these misconceptions. From our end, this looks like a great idea. This seems like a good idea - it would be fantastic to see some collected information about the way lobbyists are presenting the argument globally.
The second group out was a little surprising. It was a debate about what the goals the PPI should have and what the future of PPI should be. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that group concluded that the PPI wasn't working well as it was not pursuing a specific goal. After a brainstorming session, Pirates thought that it would be best for the PPI to help with marketing, lobbying and helping with knowledge exchange between parties.
Now we thought that most of that was already in the PPIs remit, in fact we thought it was the PPIs primary aim! In fact it would be good if this discussion leads to some concrete ways to achieve those goals. After all, we all want a PPI that helps rather than hinders its members.
The 'Surveillance Group' discussed the possibility of PPI getting membership within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency. They felt that since the Snowden revelations surveillance had become a huge issue (well, yeah!) and that lobbying within the ITU might help mitigate some of the bigger problems.
The suggestion was that the PPI should be lobbying ITU for end to end encryption on telephone communications and pushing for net neutrality. There was also suggestion that the next steps for PPI should be to gain membership with international groups like the ITU. Now of course the party in the UK does its best to work with regulators like Ofcom. Indeed Loz Kaye has been presenting Pirate views on panels that have included the Director of Internet Policy at Ofcom and Internet Service Providers Association board members too. So I'd sympathise with the aim, not sure if it should be a high priority right now, but making the case for change now is an important part of what we do as Pirates.
We also had presentations from a group discussing the creation of 'Euro-liquid' a European Liquid Feedback style platform, as well as one that suggested that the PPI should become a global IT service provider for Pirate Parties. One that shares and delivers services and offers parties some protection during times of national censorship. Obviously there are some issues there, especially whilst the PPI has its own IT issues, but it does take us back toward some of the collaboration themes that the I would like to see.
The last group I thought was interesting discussed cryptology awareness - they want to see the Pirate movement raising awareness and increasing the adoption of encryption techniques. They suggested that parties should hold more crypto-parties. Of course they are right, its a huge part of most Pirate Party's mandates, in fact as the group were reporting, intrepid Pirates from Massachusetts were doing just that in the US!
One point that the group made, a point that I disagree with - is that we should make sure that we separate our crypto-parties from our political activities - I say no, we aren't ashamed of being involved in politics, of working in the democratic system - lets make this a political issue!
So, a day with lots of discussion and new ideas, a lot reported back at least, there wasn't much about dealing with the many challenges that the PPI faces. Hopefully there will be some progress on that tomorrow. The most honest answer to the opening question is probably 'not as much as I'd have liked'. The next big challenge of course is for those involved in these groups and PPI to follow up the ideas up with action!
Photo: Pirátská strana