For several months now, the Pirate Party has been working with ThoughtWorks to develop a digital tool that could change the game for small political parties and community groups in Australia.

“It is hard to run a community group or a political party in this country”, said Thomas Randle, Councillor for Pirate Party Australia. “Anyone in the community group space will know how punishing the red tape has become, and how many different pieces of software are needed to protect membership lists and deal with the administration”.

Not any more though: the Pirate Party intends to launch a new, specialised membership management tool customised for the needs of Australia’s struggling small parties and community groups. This new software not only protects membership data to the highest standard, it also allows a party to easily meet AEC audit requirements. It contains tailored software designed to simplify administration and financial management. It also has mechanisms to manage member communication. It is an all-in-one party management tool which replaces a whole mass of disconnected software programs and also adds a range of new functions which parties and groups need. This powerful software should free up significant resources and time so that community groups and small parties can focus on their important work.

“The best news is, this software will be totally free”, said Mr Randle. “In line with the Pirate Party’s ethos, we are sharing this product as open source freeware, and encouraging anyone interested to get involved in improving and updating it”.

The Pirate Party has started a fundraising drive to help us meet the costs of bringing this project to completion. We are appealing to anyone who wants to make a difference to chip in and help to make this happen.

“A donation to this project won’t be consumed and used up—our goal here is to permanently lift the tide under every community group and small party in Australia”, he noted.

To help and for more information, please check out the campaign page here: http://www.pozible.com/memberdb

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has recently announced that people being surveyed for the Census can no longer retain their anonymity. The ABS will now retain the names and addresses of all contributors to the 2016 Australian Census[1]. The previous Census introduced retention of private data on an opt-in basis, but this time around, retention of private data is to be compulsory.

“Whilst we don’t believe that the ABS is planning to collect identifiable information for nefarious purposes, there are serious privacy concerns with collecting names and addresses along with all of the other personal information gathered in the Census,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “A future government could simply re-collate the data and use the information to target opponents based on religion, career or ethnicity. When potential abuse can only be thwarted by the good-will of future governments, the risk to personal safety is too great.”

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Mandatory data retention is set to come into effect on 13 October 2015. Despite the certainty of this date, there remains considerable uncertainty within the communications industry as to what data needs to be retained to comply with the law. Among this confusion the Attorney-General’s Department has advised the industry that exemptions to the data retention regime will be revoked if their existence is publicised[1]. This is despite the legislation not specifically requiring exemptions remain confidential. The Department has argued that this is to “prevent exposing gaps in data retention legislation to be exposed to criminals”.

“The Government and the Attorney-General’s Department would have the communications industry lie down and accept its fate,” commented Michael Keating, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “The fact is that the industry has been ignored in the Government’s push to involve itself in every individual’s and business’ communication in Australia. Not only are they dismantling the right to privacy, they want to silence anyone who challenges them, while at the same time expecting everyone to pay for the ‘privilege’. There should be no room for attacking transparency in Australia, but the Attorney-General’s Department seems willing to do this on the flimsy excuse provided.”

With the commencement of the mandatory data retention regime just around the corner, both Kmart[2] and David Jones[3] recently experienced online data breaches resulting in unauthorised access to customer details. These breaches raise serious concerns around the storage of individual’s data once the data retention regime is in operation. Internet service providers have already indicated that they would have no hesitation in storying the data overseas[4], but there is little information about security measures to prevent unauthorised access. With the stored data being capable of exposing individual’s day-to-day activities (as ABC reporter Will Ockenden’s social experiment demonstrated in August[5]), it is the perfect target for hackers wishing to access and abuse that data. The Government appears happy to use smoke and mirrors to cover this issue.
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On Wednesday September 9 the Australian government, as one of its weekly National Security announceables, announced increased funding for The National Facial Biometric Matching Capability[1]. This technology gives law enforcement agencies the ability to use images that were captured for the creation of drivers licenses, passports, and so on, to cross-reference and identify people via CCTV. While it is being pitched as a great tool for catching terrorists, we fear that this technology could be re-purposed into a means of putting the entire population under real-time surveillance, and has the potential for false positives to pull innocent people into cases they played no part in.

The Pirate Party calls upon the new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do away with the theatrics of weekly National Security announceables, which serve no purpose other than political point scoring. We also call on the government to change tack and stop the relentless march towards a police state in an attempt to wedge the ALP.

“Every few weeks the government launches another assault on our civil liberties and every week the ALP waves it through,” said Michelle Allen, Pirate Party candidate for the Canning By-Election. “Our basic rights are under bi-partisan assault in an effort to appear tough on terrorism and crime. Abbott continually attacked civil liberties as a tactic to wedge the ALP. It is time to say enough. We believe that Australians should be treated as citizens not suspects. We call on Malcolm Turnbull to stop the attacks on our freedoms and to restore our civil liberties that have withered under the Abbott government.”

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The Pirate Party welcomes the latest development in the Dallas Buyers Club (“DBC”) case[1]. Justice Nye Perram’s ruling protects Australians from speculative invoicing, a practice widespread in the US and other parts of the world in which copyright holders effectively extort legal settlements from those they accuse of copyright infringment. Furthermore, DBC was ordered to pay a bond of $600,000 to access contact details of alleged infringers to ensure they abide by restrictions his Honour may order over the content of communications between the rights-holders and the accused unauthorised file-sharers.

“We are pleased to see the Federal Court taking a keen interest in ensuring customers’ details are not used for shakedowns through speculative invoicing,” said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. “We have been concerned that the DBC case would open the floodgates for a burgeoning new industry of copyright trolling in Australia.”

The judgement is a positive step for consumers because it limits the potential scope of damages. The company has not provided a legitimate way for damages to be calculated and Justice Perram has instructed the damages only be calculated in the context of someone viewing the movie, instead of calculating the cost of buying a commercial license to distribute. This ruling accords with the Pirate Party’s position on the issue, as well those of consumer and digital rights groups such as Electronic Frontiers Australia[2], who make the point that the movie retails for almost nothing compared to what might be sought as damages.

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