The Pirate Party today made a brief submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s Inquiry into the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014. The Pirate Party criticised the length of the Bill and its explanatory memorandum, as well as the short timeframe afforded for public comment[1].

Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, author of the Pirate Party’s submission, commented: “Combined, the Foreign Fighters Bill and its explanatory memorandum are more than 350 pages long. For something as simple as preventing the handful of Australians allegedly heading overseas to fight and train with terrorist organisations from leaving or returning, these amendments are extremely broad. This Bill covers not just migration and passport restrictions, but also extends the powers of ASIO operatives and reduces judicial oversight. It even amends social security legislation. Our submission protested the enormity of the Bill and the nine days provided for the public to make submissions.

“Railroading such broad legislation through Parliament and token public consultation is fundamentally undemocratic. We are losing rights and freedoms before we realise what’s going on.”

This is the second of three waves of expected national security reforms and the process of presenting an enormous bill with minimal time for public consultation has been repeated. It is anticipated that the Government will soon present legislation that will introduce a data retention regime.

[1] http://pirateparty.org.au/media/submissions/PPAU_2014_PJCIS_Foreign_Fighters_Bill.pdf

The Pirate Party made a lengthy submission to the Attorney-General’s Department last Friday, responding to the Department’s “Online Copyright Infringement” discussion paper[1]. The submission highlighted a number of flaws with the discussion paper, such as reliance upon studies commissioned by copyright lobbyists[2], and also drew attention to the lack of government action on recommendations that could reduce online copyright infringement by improving prices and availability of digital content in Australia[3].

It also highlighted the lack of reliable and independent empirical evidence for the discussion paper’s proposals, and criticised attempts by copyright lobbyists to compare copyright infringement with terrorism or the distribution of child sexual abuse materials[4]. The discussion paper proposes creating obligations for Internet service providers to cooperate with copyright holders, which may mean implementing a graduated response or “three strikes” scheme where Internet users are sent letters if accused of infringing copyright. It also proposes allowing copyright holders to seek injunctions requiring ISPs to block access to websites.

Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer, principal author of the Pirate Party’s submission, said: “The Government decided to focus its attention on changing consumer behaviour and our submission explains at great length why that approach just won’t work. If online copyright infringement is truly out of control, copyright holders only have themselves to blame. The reality is that increasing access and affordability of content will reduce online copyright infringement: just look at Steam, Netflix and Spotify. The discussion paper acknowledges this but its proposals are focused in entirely the wrong area.

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Pirate Party Australia has made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department regarding the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.[1]

In its submission the Pirate Party calls for an end to blanket exemptions for intelligence agencies like ASIO, encouraging the application of the FOI framework to all government organisations and agencies. The submission refers to several cases involving the Party’s own freedom of information requests, notably the lack of success in bringing transparency to meetings between the Attorney-General’s Department and industry regarding file-sharing, and the refusal to release draft national security legislation which has been appealed to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

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Pirate Party Australia made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on the issues paper “Copyright and the Digital Economy”. The paper examines the relationship between copyright and changing social practices, discussing the need for adjustment of the Copyright Act 1968 to greater reflect current trends.

Joining a chorus of submissions the Party called for a more appropriate copyright framework for modern Australia. Included among the recommendations made by Pirate Party Australia were the legalisation of backup copies, quotation rights for all kinds of creative material, a technology-neutral approach to reform, and a solution for the problem of orphan works. The submission also recognised the legitimacy of non-commercial/non-market transfers of culture, information and knowledge, recommending that allowances for such cultural transfers are respected by the copyright framework.

The ALRC will make their recommendations for copyright reform before December, 2013. The Commission will release a discussion paper in 2013, with a second call for submissions. Pirate Party Australia will also be making a submission at that time.

The deadline for submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s (PJCIS) Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation was August 20, and today, PJCIS allowed for the publication of submissions. Pirate Party Australia submitted a comprehensive response to the discussion paper.

In the lengthy submission the Party comments on many points in the discussion paper, including:

  • Strongly objecting to penalties for individuals who refuse to assist in decrypting information or provide their passwords, eroding a person’s right to avoid self-incrimination;
  • Strongly objecting to keeping all Internet users’ browsing and email history for two years, introducing an arbitrary violation of privacy; and
  • Suggesting adding controls to various powers that certain agencies have to breach individuals’ privacy.

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