The Pirate Party renews its calls for greater transparency and participation in treaty negotiation, following the latest leaked draft of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) that shows the agreement is likely to impose anti-privacy and anti-freedom of speech obligations upon Australia[1]. These provisions would benefit large multinational corporations and governments at the cost of the rights of the citizens, and are being negotiated behind closed doors.

“Democracy is under threat, not from terrorism or rising global tensions, but from secretly negotiated treaties like the Trade in Services Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “Provisions too severe to be proposed domestically for fear of being summarily booted from office are being included in treaty negotiations to be swallowed as a bitter pill along with what might otherwise be sensible proposals. TISA is the latest in a long line of secret treaties that have adopted this strategy, and must be opposed as vigorously as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement before it.”

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The Pirate Party is pleased to announce that it has successfully passed a review of its eligibility to remain a registered political party in Australia. A delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) contacted the Pirate Party to confirm that it meets the requirements for eligibility and has been approved for continued registration. This news comes following the AEC’s review of parties without a sitting parliamentarian, which has so far resulted in the deregistration of a number of political parties including the Australian Sex Party, Australian Democrats and the Democratic Labour Party[1].

Pirate Party Secretary Daniel Judge commented: “While we were confident that we would pass the review, this is an enormous relief and ensures that the Pirate Party will contest the next federal election. This is the first time we’ve been reviewed by the AEC since we applied for registration in January 2013, and it appears we passed with flying colours.

“Although meeting the 500 member threshold is not particularly difficult for most parties, ensuring that the details of each of those 500 are up to date and that they are enrolled to vote can be an administrative hurdle. Thankfully we cleared it without trouble, and I’d like to thank all our members who assisted our internal audit by confirming their details.”

The Pirate Party looks forward to continuing the task of broadening its policy platform[2] to address the challenges facing a 21st century Australia, and campaigning against draconian copyright restrictions, the ever-increasing surveillance state, and the destructive anti-science policy directions of the current government. As part of this, the Pirate Party recently released a basic guide for Australians wanting to protect their privacy in response to the mandatory data retention regime recently enacted by the Federal Parliament. This guide is available at https://pirateparty.org.au/dataretention/

[1] http://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/Party_Registration/Deregistered_parties/index.htm
[2] http://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform

Brendan Molloy, President of Pirate Party Australia

The Annual National Congress is due to be run in July. After careful consideration, I have decided not to recontest any position on the National Council this year and take a break from politics.

It takes a lot of work to develop a self-sustaining political party, and eventually we all need to take a step back to reflect on many years of hard work, while taking a break to recover from the very physical and emotional toll that day-to-day political work has on a person.

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Australians should be prepared for threatening letters demanding they “pay up or else” for allegedly downloading movies online, following the Federal Court’s judgment in Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Ltd. The judgment, handed down this afternoon, means that Australians may soon be the target of “speculative invoicing” — sending letters that threaten legal action unless the alleged downloader pays a settlement figure.

Originally the respondent, iiNet, refused to hand over its customers’ details, believing they would be used as part of speculative invoicing, and its refusal prompted the litigation[1]. Although Justice Perram, in giving the judgment, reportedly stated that the letters will need to be cleared by the Court prior to issue[2], the Pirate Party remains concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent.

Pirate Party Secretary Daniel Judge commented: “This practice has been criticised strongly in the United Kingdom[3], and is predatory to say the least. Like scams, speculative invoicing targets thousands of people and extorts payment from the most vulnerable. In the UK, the accuracy of this approach in targeting people who actually infringed copyright has been criticised. Innocent users have been targeted as a result of the indiscriminate approach[4][5], and even copyright holder representatives have condemned speculative invoicing[6].”

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Last night the Federal Parliament voted to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to an unprecedented amount of information on all Australians[1]. The Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party gleefully goose-stepped together to pass legislation requiring telecommunications service providers to store enormous amounts of personal data for a minimum of two years under the mandatory data retention scheme.

This has created a mass surveillance regime that will target all Australians at a time when other countries have abandoned this approach, and Australians will pay for this increased surveillance through taxes and additional phone and Internet charges. This is despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory data retention schemes do not work to reduce serious crime and are a substantial assault on privacy.

Pirate Party Deputy President Simon Frew said: “Years of undermining privacy and other civil liberties has reached a climax. Everyone will live under the shadow of mass surveillance. We can no longer take our privacy for granted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a lawyer or a journalist — no one can assume that their communications are confidential. This is the most shamelessly authoritarian legislation Australia has seen for a long time.”

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