Yesterday, private, mostly foreign owned, rent-seeking copyright maximalists and distribution monopolists celebrated on the dying corpse of Internet freedom in Australia, joyfully cheering in a censored Australian Internet by blocking torrent sites through major Australian ISPs[1]. Their attempts to control how people access content online will be little affected by their supposed gains because they simply don’t understand how the Internet works at a technical or social level. Their attempts as blocking “torrent” sites are laughable despite these companies trying to paint this as a big win.

“Corporations, some of which pay no company tax in Australia[2], yet pay large donations to political parties[3] are using this decision to paint a picture of despicable internet villans using technology to put the entertainment industry out of business,” said Michael Keating, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “In reality, all Australians want is access to media content at a fair price and at the right time, and this decision does nothing to address this issue. If anything, it reinforces the monopoly these companies hold in refusing Australian’s access to content. This also demonstrates how content distribution companies are willing to twist our legal system in their favour by demanding censorship.”

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The Pirate Party urges caution following the announcement by the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, that retrospective legislation will be introduced to criminalise the re-identification of de-identified government data. The threat of retrospective legislation may be a ploy to silence critics of the government for discussing flaws in government-published datasets without due process. Consequently, this may prevent anyone bringing security flaws in government practices to attention — including the attention of the Government.

In a media release issued on Wednesday afternoon[1] the Attorney-General announced his intention to introduce new laws aimed at protecting data published by the Government. These changes appear to completely miss their mark, and may in fact criminalise the inspection of datasets for flaws and faults. The broad terms of the proposal could easily implicate any researchers in the field of data anonymity — anyone whose research involves examining datasets for potential privacy flaws.

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With fresh moves afoot to remove the words insult and offend from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act[1], the Pirate Party calls upon Parliament to get serious about supporting free speech.

“Pirate Party Australia is well aware of the risks around state censorship of opinions,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “We fought the Internet censorship laws of the Rudd Government and we opposed the Gillard Government’s attempt to extend section 18C in ways that would have banned causing offence on the grounds of religion and political opinion.”

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“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].

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