Last week, the parliament of the European Union narrowly voted to adopt copyright protectionist measures, at the urging of private corporations, that include a “link tax” on hyperlinks and force all but the smallest sites to police uploaded content for copyright registered material.[1] Pirate Party Australia stands with the European digital rights community in opposing rent seeking copyright protectionist policies and will vigorously fight to prevent such restrictive laws from being implemented in Australia.

The link tax has already caused economic damage in the 5 years since it was implemented in Germany and has not proven to successfully monetise so called “secondary uses” of press publications.[2] The policing of uploaded content will require either vast amounts of human staff manually approving content, or an automated filter which will hamper or shut down user generated content to the web’s largest sites. Such an automated filter is prone to a high rate of failure equivalent to active censorship.[3] As sites will now be automatically liable for all content uploaded, without even the inadequate protection of the American’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act safe harbour provisions, websites will be forced to err on the side of caution and block significantly more than they are required to resulting in legal (or morally acceptable fair use) content uploads to be blocked.[4]

A spokesperson from a group supporting the amended legislation claimed it would force content hosts to “play fair” and close the “value gap” by preventing the exploitative use of content. Said spokesperson did not clarify whether they considered the fair use and non infringing user generated content (which would be blocked under the new legislation) to be exploitative.[5][6]

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On Friday August 31st, whistleblower Chelsea Manning was due to fly into Australia on a speaking tour about her experiences and activism.

Chelsea Manning was a key participant in the 2010 video leaks of a 2007 US air strike in Baghdad. Those leaks revealed the killing of two Reuters journalists and multiple civilians, considered by some to be war crimes.[1] However, once her actions were discovered, she was sentenced to 35 years in jail across multiple charges, serving seven of them until her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama. Her convicted charges included espionage, theft, computer fraud and breaches of military regulations. The information was published by Wikileaks.[2]

While some Americans call her a traitor for actions, we in the Pirate Party offer her support for her brave actions in revealing the inhumane actions of the US armed forces in Baghdad. Under official Party Policy[3][4] we have a commitment to offer diplomatic aid to overseas whistleblowers who have acted in the public good; we consider Chelsea Manning to have done so. On the same basis we support aid to whistleblower Edward Snowden who revealed mass US government spying on European and Australian citizens in 2013 and now forced to seek asylum from the US, and to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who has been under indefinite detention in the London Ecuadorean Embassy since 2012 to avoid being extradited to the US.

Party President Miles Whiticker said, “In the face of unjust laws, it is the duty of all moral individuals to agitate for change. We do not advocate breaking the law. However, we do seek the strongest protections for whistleblowers in national and international law, whether they are exposing war crimes overseas or corruption and fraud within Australia.”

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Pirate Party Australia supports moves by Australian Citizens to opt out of the Federal Government’s MyHealth Record System. Many flaws within the system have been exposed by the Australian media since the Opt Out period began on 16 July, 2018.

While Pirate Party Australia supports a national system of electronic health records in principle, the MyHealth Record systems fails to provide the basic privacy safeguards that should be enforced for such a system, combined with a mandatory Opt Out system rather than Australian Citizens being asked to opt in.

“The MyHealth Record system as it was initially rolled out looks like a lazy and poorly thought out IT project,” stated Pirate Party President Miles Whiticker. “This is a continuation of the Federal Coalition Government’s shocking record on IT infrastructure and privacy matters. It should only ever have been an Opt In system,” Miles continued, “and while we understand that the issue has since been rectified, that initially Australian Law Enforcement Agencies would not have required a warrant or court order to access the information held on MyHealth Record is concerning to Pirate Party Australia and should be to all privacy advocates.”

“Pirate Party Australia would encourage all Australian Citizens to opt out of MyHealth Record before the current 15 October 2018 deadline.”

How to opt-out of My Health Record, courtesy of the Australian Privacy Foundation:

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While we appreciate the initiative that the Australian Greens have made in putting a version of Universal Basic Income (UBI) forward, Pirate Party Australia long ago developed the idea into a practical and costed policy that is good for Australia.

While some criticisms of the Greens’ approach are valid, our own UBI policy has many fundamental differences. However, many criticisms of the Greens’ UBI policy are unfair and only show the ignorance of the critic, often being based on “intellectual guilt by association”, without any real engagement with the detail.

The Pirate Party UBI policy is not a universal payment to all, but rather part of an integrated taxation and welfare system, where an citizen earning $40,000 a year pays no tax nor receives any benefit. Above this income, they pay tax. Below this income, their income is topped up to a maximum of $15,000 a year, representing an effective UBI.

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Whatever your stance on refugee policy, this crisis has gone way too far.

The Australian Government’s policy is to make a point that anyone who attempts to enter Australia without authorisation, no matter the reason, will be met with a life of suffering even worse than what they are fleeing from. To achieve these means, the Australian Government has appointed Peter Dutton to effectively run a series of Concentration Camps right here in Australia, and some (like Manus Island) are outsourced to impoverished countries acting in proxy to Australia.

Thankfully these are not extermination camps, but the living conditions and mental stresses these people are subjected to go far beyond what most Australians would ever experience and deserve the label concentration camps.

Well Mr Dutton and Mr Turnbull, point made – especially on Manus Island – but now it has gone too far and it’s time for the suffering to stop.

The situation is so bad, and the Australian Government is so hell bent on making these people suffer, that New Zealand are basically pleading with us to let them take some in just to help end the suffering. Even wealthy individuals like Russell Crowe are offering to privately fund resettlement into a life of freedom. There are plenty of Australians right there behind him who would do the same. It’s not a case of putting foreigners before Australians, this is strictly on a humanitarian level of decent Australians wanting to help people suffering extreme conditions because of political circumstances.

It’s not reasonable to expect these people to “relocate themselves” from one concentration camp to another. Between the choice of staying trapped in squalor and in fear of the local population, and being trapped in another camp with no chance of freedom, it’s not really much of a choice. If you had to pick between accepting your fate of being a lifelong prisoner for having committed no crime and having a chance to act out against your captor, you would probably make the same choices.

The Australian Government has deprived these people of their freedom and therefore have a duty of care.

End the suffering.

Give these people freedom and a place to go, they have been through enough.

If there is a genuine reason why these people should not be accepted for refugees, the government needs to make the case. If not, they must let them in or hand them over to New Zealand, US or any other country willing to accept them humanely.

The Australian Government have already demonstrated their skills in influencing Papua New Guinea and Nauru to accept refugees (and we got close to a deal with Malaysia and Indonesia in the past), they should use this influence in the region to make these countries (as well as others) adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provide the proper refuge in their countries, as well as taking in our fair share. New Zealand have repeatedly offered to help with resettlement.

This is the position of The Pirate Party. We also recommend that have a shared processing queue where which allocates a country to resettle in no matter where the refugee physically lands. Then there is no incentive to make risky trips to Australia and people in genuine need of refuge have a place to go without overloading any particular country’s resources.

We also believe that in the case of refugees who do make it to Australia, we should be providing them with resources to find work and become productive members of society and that these resources should also be available to all Australians too.

Our full policy on Asylum seekers and refugees is located at: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Asylum_seekers_and_refugees

We also note the irony of Malcolm Turnbull defending Josh Frydenberg’s citizenship status on humanitarian grounds of his parents. They escaped persecution during the Holocaust and came to Australia as refugees (as have many other Australians who have contributed greatly), but the major parties don’t believe that the current batch of refugees don’t deserve the same accommodations or basic human dignity.