A number of 2003 Cabinet records, presumed to relate to the Howard Government’s decision to join the war in Iraq, were not transferred to the Archives in 2020, as they should have been for review prior to release yesterday. [1]

“We eagerly anticipate the release of these records,” said Miles Whiticker, President of Pirate Party Australia. “The delay may even prove beneficial — instead of being one tranche of many from 2003, all released in the holiday season, these missing documents will stand alone in the news cycle.”

Transparency — even on a 20 year delay — is vital for maintaining trust. What is known from the releases is that the decision to go to war was made by Cabinet based on “oral reports by the prime minister”. [2]

The Pirate Party believes that no Prime Minister should have the sole authority to commit Australia to war, a position which the recent releases only reinforce. Rather, Australians must not be sent to war without a 2/3rds majority in each house of Parliament. [3]

We urge the Albanese Government to enact war powers reform.


[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/jan/01/morrison-government-failed-to-give-howard-era-national-security-cabinet-papers-to-national-archives 
[2]: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/jan/01/australia-went-to-war-in-iraq-based-on-oral-reports-to-cabinet-from-john-howard 
[3]: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Defence.2C_diplomacy_and_aid 

Pirate Party Australia has sounded the alarm over the potential risks to personal privacy posed by the newly introduced Identity Verification Services (IVS) Bill 2023. This bill claims to bolster identity verification processes but instead introduces new risks to Australians.

“While it’s good that there’s finally going to be a legislative framework here, we’re concerned about the lack of detail regarding protections for Australians against abuses of power and misuses of data,” said Miles Whiticker, party president. “This Bill falls short on transparency and accountability, components that are essential in upholding trust and integrity in how personal data is handled by the government.”

The Pirate Party is pushing for refined and comprehensible guidelines that outline the use and protection of citizens’ identities. It is critical for individuals to be fully informed and to grant explicit consent prior to having their information verified through the new system. Such informed consent is necessary for individuals to make decisions that are in their best interest regarding their personal data.

“The debate surrounding this Bill has also been characterised by an inadequate level of public engagement and consultation,” Mr Whiticker continued. “In our view, a more inclusive approach is required—one that factors in a wider array of perspectives from the Australian community, ensuring that the system reflects the public’s concerns and expectations in relation to digital identity verification.”

Going further, the Pirate Party proposes alternatives that could strike a better balance between the needs of identity verification and safeguarding personal privacy. International best practices for guidance include the strict privacy protocols in models like the GDPR in Europe, which was implemented with the support of the European Pirate Party, and Canada’s Digital Charter. Such systems place a strong emphasis on gaining user consent, reducing the retention of personal data, and implementing stringent controls over data management. These international examples provide a blueprint for amending the current IVS Bill to better respect privacy, affirm user control over personal identity data, and ultimately ensure that Australia’s own policies are in lockstep with leading global standards. Finally, the privacy protections in the IVS Bill must be bought up to the standards of the proposed Digital ID Bill.

Pirate Party Australia reaffirms its dedication to defending the privacy of Australians in the face of advancing digital technology. The party is calling for a comprehensive reassessment of the IVS Bill to fully address the issues highlighted and invite a progressive dialogue to realign the Bill with core principles of digital rights and privacy.

In response to the recent shutdown of Omegle, Pirate Party Australia reaffirms its dedication to defending digital freedoms while acknowledging the complexity of safeguarding against online misuse.

Omegle was a platform allowing users to anonymously video chat with strangers, but the site drew criticism due to incidents of child sexual abuse and other criminal activity. Pirate Party Australia acknowledges the gravity of these concerns, emphasising the need to find a balance that both addresses such issues and maintains online freedoms. Leif K-Brooks, Omegle’s creator, cited the struggle and costs associated with combating platform misuse as the main reasons for its closure. While Leif expressed that the site “punched above it’s weight in content moderation” and highlighted that “Omegle worked with law enforcement agencies, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to help put evildoers in prison” it seems that was not enough for it’s detractors. Pirate Party Australia highlights the ongoing battle endured by online platforms in creating safe spaces without stifling critical rights.

Despite acknowledging Omegle’s misuse, Pirate Party Australia stresses the wider implications of closing platforms that promote free, open communication. The party believes a nuanced approach is key — one that deals with concerns, yet maintains the essential right to make new connections online. “Digital freedom is integral to our ethos, and we empathise with the difficulties platforms like Omegle face. Striking a balance between safety assurance and the preservation of an open internet is crucial,” states Pirate Party Australia’s President, Miles Whiticker.

Pirate Party Australia champions responsible online governance that combines robust, preventative action to protect against misuse, rather than resorting to total shutdowns. The party upholds the power of technology to bolster civic engagement, and supports ongoing efforts to find inventive solutions to the challenges spawned by shifting online dynamics. Despite Omegle’s closure, Pirate Party Australia persists in its commitment to cultivate a digital environment that upholds privacy, free speech, and the right to connect with others without unwarranted restriction.

BRISBANE, 6th Nov 2023 – Pirate Party Australia, a champion of digital rights, has called out Jordan’s recent restriction on the LGBTIQ+ social networking app, Grindr. This blockade amplifies the steadily growing affront to the country’s online freedoms and its commitment to inclusivity.

This move comes amid an apparent surge in intolerance and discrimination against Jordan’s LGBTIQ+ communities. Even though antique colonial-era laws criminalising consensual same-sex relationships have been repealed, religious restrictions in the country still rock the boat for the LGBTIQ+ rights.

Pirate Party Australia’s President, Miles Whiticker, shares: “Our mission is an internet that is both free of censorship and discrimination. The prohibition of Grindr is not a standalone incident, but a grim addition to a troubling pattern that infringes on the digital rights and welfare of the worldwide LGBTIQ+ community. Our stance is unwavering – every individual, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves to connect with others and find joy.”

Data from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) reveals that Grindr’s site and app were blocked in Jordan starting from 8th August, 2023 [1]. According to OONI, the ban is not temporary but enduring. This is more than a mere technological barrier; it’s a blatant affront to universal human rights and health agendas. Grindr has played a crucial role in Jordan’s response to HIV by providing users with necessary resources in Arabic. The ban, thus, not only infringes on public health initiatives but jeopardizes the wellness of Jordan’s entire LGBTIQ+ community.

Confronted by the closure of physical spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community in Jordan, Pirate Party Australia emphasises the necessity to safeguard online platforms. The global community must recognise the potential implications of this clampdown for both Jordanians and the global LGBTIQ+ populace.

Jordan’s government is urged to reconsider the ban on Grindr and uphold the rights and dignity of all citizens. Pirate Party Australia reaffirms its resolve to champion an internet unencumbered by censorship – an inclusive online world where self-expression isn’t shadowed by fear.

[1] https://ooni.org/post/2023-jordan-blocks-grindr/

BRISBANE, 1st July 2023 – The Pirate Party Australia today voiced its concern over the newly proposed legislation which aims to combat misinformation online by imposing fines on tech platforms.
“Our view is that the best disinfectant for misinformation is sunlight,” said Pirate Party Australia President, Miles Whiticker. “Instead of burying misinformation, it needs to be brought to public scrutiny and systematically addressed. This way, the Australian public can make informed decisions based on open dialogue.”

The proposed bill, empowering the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to impose penalties on tech companies for failing to combat misinformation, raises several concerns for the Pirate Party.
“We acknowledge the harm that can result from the spread of false information,” stated Whiticker. “But it is paramount that any measures taken don’t result in an unnecessary clampdown on the free expression of ideas or force misinformation further into the depths of the internet, creating echo chambers that are much harder to dispel.” The Pirate Party Australia also underscores the importance of moderation being a voluntary act. “Consumers should be able to choose communities that match their desired level of regulation,” Whiticker stated. “Many communities lack trust in public figures due to perceived bias against their interests.”

The party also cautions against the potential for government overreach in the new laws. “While we do not favour more regulation in general, we recognise that legal recourse may be necessary when misinformation leads to harmful consequences. It is important that such processes should be handled by the independent judicial system, thereby ensuring impartiality and preventing political misuse,” Whiticker added.

The Pirate Party encourages the government to focus on spreading correct and trustworthy information, with a strong emphasis on education to foster a more discerning and critically thinking population. “The ultimate power lies in an informed public,” Whiticker concluded.

The Pirate Party Australia invites its members and the public to engage in this important debate and provide feedback on the proposed bill before its public consultation stage concludes in August.