Pirate Party Australia: A Free Internet For All

“Pirate Party Australia is proud to announce that digital rights are central to our campaign in the 2016 Federal election. Campaigning under the slogan ‘Transparency Liberty Digital Rights,’ or TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read), we aim to reverse the trend of governments operating under an increasingly dense veil of secrecy, whilst subjecting citizens to increasingly intrusive surveillance.” said Lachlan Simpson, Pirate Party candidate for the Victorian Senate.

“The Internet has been under attack from successive governments. The Abbott/Turnbull government has passed a mass surveillance regime and legislation to enable Internet censorship, with the support of the ALP,” continued Lachlan. “We pledge to fight tirelessly for Internet freedom. Pirate Party Australia has an extensive platform on digital liberties[1] and was formed precisely to oppose such attacks on our rights.”

Since 9/11 Australia has passed more than 40 different terrorism related pieces of legislation. These have generally been passed with bi-partisan support and include many attacks on basic human rights[2]. We are now under warrantless mass surveillance[3], journalists can be jailed for reporting on investigations[4], citizens can be detained without charge[5] and ASIO can theoretically hack the entire Internet under a single warrant[6].

“Pirate Party Australia pledges to campaign tirelessly to overturn these intrusive laws and restore the principle that warrants are required to put anyone under surveillance. This is a basic expectation in a democratic society, one that was stripped from us to appear tough on terrorism. The increased role that the internet plays in our lives make this type of governmental overreach incredibly problematic. It redraws the relationship between citizens and the state in ways that make it dangerous to be outspoken, or to demand and expect transparency,” he said.

The other major issue is censorship, specifically of the internet, driven by the lobbying of traditional media organisations. With the ease of filesharing, the public are no longer willing to accept artificially high prices or staggered release dates for films and TV. Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of content piracy as a direct result of geoblocks and over-pricing that protect anachronistic business models.

Whilst discussions between rights holders and ISPs have stalled[7], there is a big chance that a ‘graduated response’ regime could be implemented by the next government, regardless of who wins the election. The government also passed laws to enable torrent sites like the Pirate Bay to be blocked by the Federal Court[8].

“We are seeing massive ‘donations'[9] being paid to both major Parties by entertainment industry heavyweights to lock up the internet,” continued Mr Simpson. “Village Roadshow split $500,000 between Labor and Liberal in the financial year 2013-14. Despite box office records being smashed on an almost yearly basis[10], the film industry is desperately trying to lock up the Internet to further increase their profits and to resist the cultural shift in consumption that has already happened. Pirate Party Australia exists to protect Internet users from over-regulation and control wielded by global media empires.”

“Further, putting the onus on the carriers to implement these blocks will not only increase the cost of everyone’s Internet but reduce the ability of new providers to enter the ISP market as the running costs soar. Finally – and most damning – is that with the increased use of VPNs, these laws are ineffective. They don’t actually work. Studies show[11] time and again that making content easily available at a fair price reduces piracy significantly, which is why Pirate Party Australia proposes that site blocking laws be thrown out, geoblocking be ended and fair use be enacted.” Mr Simpson concluded.

Pirate Party Australia encourages people to look beyond simple slogans and take a careful look at the policies each party are going into the election with. The Pirate Party platform can be found at https://platform.pirateparty.org.au

[1] https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Digital_Liberties
[2] https://www.humanrights.gov.au/human-rights-guide-australias-counter-terrorism-laws
[3] https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2015A00039
[4] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-14/journalists-face-jail-for-exposing-security-agency-bungles/5776504
[5] https://www.humanrights.gov.au/human-rights-guide-australias-counter-terrorism-laws#3_7
[6] http://www.itnews.com.au/news/parliament-passes-law-to-let-asio-tap-entire-internet-396365
[7] http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/foxtel-and-rights-holders-drop-three-strikes-piracy-scheme-20160525-gp3b2y.html
[8] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-18/village-roadshow-launches-legal-action-to-block-piracy-website/7176688
[9] http://www.itnews.com.au/news/village-roadshow-boosts-donations-amidst-copyright-crackdown-399933
[10] http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/
[11] https://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20130723/12235723906/two-new-reports-confirm-best-way-to-reduce-piracy-dramatically-is-to-offer-good-legal-alternatives.shtml