Digital Rights and Surveillance

Ever since the Pirate Party was founded we have been pointing out that the new world of technology brings new challenges and opportunities to politics. The Internet deserves a voice in parliament, as all too often our representatives have been wilfully ignorant. This is why we stand for digital rights. This is about protecting our rights and making sure that the digital revolution is available to all, and not just a few.

For many, the online world is a place to reclaim some freedom. Here too, we are increasingly watched and restricted. We’re here to say it doesn’t have to be like that.

Citizens’ rights to private communication is vital. We will forbid third parties from intercepting or monitoring communication traffic, and require specific warrants to be issued by a court before communications traffic is monitored. We will oppose the return of the Communications Data Bill (“Snoopers’ Charter”) or similar legislation added to any other bill. We will ensure that the freedom to encrypt data and communications is not abridged or limited, and that access to encryption tools is not restricted.

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee must be truly independent and robust, it must act for UK citizens not protect vested interests. We will strengthen data protection laws; companies must inform data subjects of their rights and be clear about their data policies.

We will make it easier to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been breached, and increase the penalties for any breaches of data protection laws. We will allow the courts to apply these penalties to both the individuals and companies responsible, proportional to the scale of the breach.

We want clearer guidelines and restrictions on the use of DNA records by authorities.This will ensure samples are only taken voluntarily or when there are reasonable grounds to suspect the individual of having committed a serious offence. Samples should be promptly destroyed if the individual is acquitted or not charged with a criminal offence, and they should only be held for the length of time for which there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect has committed a crime.

Too often the out going government’s digital policy has been directed by tabloid headlines, not experts in the field. We will stop the imposing by government of censorship tools such as so-called “web filtering” or site blocking as blanket tools. We will cut the copyright cops PIPCU. We will repeal the sections of the Digital Economy Act which conflict with digital rights.

Everyone should have equal right to access the benefits that technology can bring. We will extend the requirement to provide basic telephone services to a requirement to provide a minimum level of broadband service and extend this responsibility to all providers who operate in the UK.

We know that the UK’s future success depends on a modern broadband infrastructure supporting a free and open Internet. We must aim to end the “Digital Divide”. We will promote the provision of free public WiFi as well as the provision of Internet access in community centres and libraries by local authorities.

It’s vital no-one is excluded from the digital revolution. We will promote the inclusion of accessibility features, such as subtitles and audio descriptions for the disabled. Our aim is to make content accessible for disabled people. We will introduce an obligation for publishers to provide a DRM-free copy of their product where necessary to allow the use of accessibility programs (for example, voice synthesiser software to “read out” an e-book to a visually impaired person).