Civil Liberties

It often feels like we live in a “say no first, ask questions later” society. Whether it’s councils banning a 9 year old from blogging about school dinners or the government threatening to suspend social media, the Pirate Party has always stood up for freedom of speech. The courts must not be used to block freedom of expression and knowledge, and a reform of libel laws is overdue to ensure this. The right to speak out is fundamental in democracy.

We must protect the right to protest, assemble and strike.

There are numerous criminal laws that are poorly defined, overly broad, or easily and commonly misapplied; these laws stifle liberty. We would immediately repeal:

  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), sections 49 & 54, which can force people to hand over encryption keys, and prevent them from telling anyone about the request

  • Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, sections 142-149, which prevent people from protesting at or near the Houses of Parliament.

  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, sections 63-66, originally aimed at ending “rave culture”.

We would conduct a review of:

  • Communications Act 2003, Section 127, which is out of date, and inappropriate for the Internet age. People should not be arrested for making jokes on Twitter.

  • Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which is loosely defined, creates numerous violations of human rights (including allowing testimony obtained using torture).

Most importantly, it is time to claim back the ‘commons’, even on privately owned land that is used publicly. We have the right to gather and enjoy our shared spaces and we should be free from arbitrary restrictions and intrusions if we wish to do so. We want to see a rolling back of the more authoritarian excesses of the last few governments, including a review of terrorism legislation and laws designed to limit a specific type of behaviour, but that now have an impact on every day life and have come to threaten us all.