Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Adrian Short

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Andy Halsall

Adrian Short : Books for prisoners - A novel approach

In a nutshell for those with limited reading time:

New rules that stop UK prisoners receiving parcels have led to a political row over prisoners' access to books being restricted. Justice secretary Chris Grayling sees books as a privilege that must be earned through prisoner cooperation rather than as a basic right for everyone. While prisoners will still have access to prison libraries, the new rule clearly greatly reduces prisoners' access to the wide range of reading opportunities that they might like. Whether prisoners are reading for pleasure or education (or both), easy access to a wide range of books should be non-negotiable in a decent society, even for the most notorious or uncooperative prisoners. People are more than just flesh and blood; we need to feed our minds as well as our bodies.

Andy Halsall : EU-US free trade deal must not diminish European standards

The free trade agreement between Europe and America raises the possibility that consumer, employee and environmental protections will be seen as inconveniences that can be reduced rather than levelled between the two partners.

The wave of announcements on both sides of the Atlantic on the proposed negotiations between the European Union and the United States on the 'world's biggest ever' free trade deal came with a surge of positive predictions of such an agreement's impact and not without good reason. After all, the EU and US enjoy one of the closest economic partnerships in the world and certainly the largest.

If you look at the relationship in terms of bilateral trade, the picture is pretty clear with more than €2bn a day passing between the two in 2012. According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, transatlantic investment is directly responsible for around 6.8 million jobs. It is a relationship that has a broad impact. Not only does it help to produce economic prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic but also in dozens of other trading partners around the world.

It is hard to argue that any measures that might make this partnership more efficient, or remove barriers to competition would not be a good thing. Of course, as with any relationship in which both sides are competing, the positive aspects come with a few negatives. Disagreements and tariffs may be minor but they do pose a barrier to access for both EU and US businesses. Current subsidies and state support ensure that in some areas competition is less than ideal, or even impossible.

Loz Kaye : LibDems and Labour – Nothing to Offer on Mass Surveillance

There is a set pattern for speeches from mainstream politicians about the Internet. Start off with a few “isn't it amazing what the kids can do nowadays” generalities to show you are vaguely with it. Then do a nod in the direction of the economic benefits technology can bring, to keep business happy. That leaves you clear to get on to the meat of what you really want to talk about – how the Nettywebz are a Pandora's box of terror, abuse, threats to citizen's rights, and moral dissolution.

So it has proved with the much trailed speeches by the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and the LibDem Leader Nick Clegg respectively. In particular, Cooper's speech is so packed with web cliches that it is clear that the Labour top remains fundamentally anti-Internet in its outlook. There are too many lazy conflations to mention, Facebook and NHS data are lumped together for example. She refers to the “digital challenges of the last 12 months” regarding mass surveillance. I have no idea what this means specifically, and I suspect whoever wrote it doesn't either.

To cut through the padding, the heart of what they set out to address, was surveillance in the light of the Snowden revelations. I want to focus on the substance – such as it is – of what they said and proposed, rather than how it was sold to the media.

The fact that they are discussing this at all shows that it is beginning to filter through to politicians that they can't ignore the gravity of the serious breaches of trust that have taken place. That's in no small way thanks to all the work of grassroots digital rights and privacy activists over the months. And of course Edward Snowden himself, whatever Cooper might claim to the contrary. To be fair, this is some kind of progress.

Loz Kaye : The EU - Where We Stand

Over the last few months it has been impossible to avoid that old battleground of British politics: Europe.

 In the run up to the European Parliament elections our membership of the European Union is being discussed all over the country.  We've seen statements issued, arguments laid out and promises made, yet there is still seems to be confusion about where various parties stand, and whether they will still be standing there in six months time....

No one should be confused about our position within the Pirate Party though.  Quite simply:

  • We want a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
  • We do not want the UK to join the Eurozone or use the Euro.

We need a referendum because our membership of that block has an impact on our lives, work and opportunities within the UK in a way that us very different to when we joined the EC.  We need a referendum because people deserve a say and our party believes in democracy. We need a referendum because the debate will give us a better idea of what we want in the future and the momentum we need to make radical changes to the EU. We need a referendum because it is long overdue.

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