Due to vacancies left at the 2017 Congress we held an election for a position on the Dispute Resolution Committee and the role of Deputy President. 180 out of a possible 1,344 full members voted.

Deputy President: John Edward Philip Jeffery
Dispute Resolution Committee: Liam Pomfret

The full breakdown of results can be found on the Party’s voting server for a short time, including raw JSON data.

The software used is Oyster, a free and open source voting system.

The High Court has ruled that the Coalition government’s $122 million dollar postal survey on same sex marriage can go ahead, meaning that all Australian voters will have the chance to vote on a basic equal rights issue.

“The Pirate Party is in full support of equal rights for LGBTI people” said Tom Randle, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia. “We join with the efforts of the Yes campaign to remove discrimination against LGBTI couples in law, everyone deserves the same rights when it comes to marriage — as has occurred in some 21 other countries to date[1] — and really is a fundamental human right[2].”

“While our policy goes further than the proposed changes[3], incremental improvements are always welcome. The Pirate Party urges everyone to vote Yes for marriage equality. We will be supporting all campaigning efforts to finally and respectfully resolve the question of equality of relationships between people who love each other, since the government has failed to simply bring a vote into the Federal Parliament so far.”

References:
[1]: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/07/glance-same-sex-marriage-around-world
[2]: http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
[3]: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Policies/Marriage

The results of Pirate Party Australia’s July 2017 National Congress are in!

The Pirate Party held its National Congress in Melbourne on July 29—30 for the purposes of amending the Party Constitution, amending and adopting policies and deciding leadership positions, and as an opportunity for members of the Party to socialise in person. The results of the now-concluded week-long voting period can be announced. The Party had a turnout of approximately 14% from a pool of 1,355 participants.

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In the wake of the Melbourne terror incident and the terror attacks in London and Manchester the Federal government is attempting to shift some of the blame for the actions of the terrorists in these latest attacks on to large Internet companies and the encryption technology which keeps us all safe online.

Pirate Party Australia opposes any weakening of encryption because it will be ineffective, it will harm the privacy of ordinary citizens and it will make it easier for private data to be stolen by hackers, both criminal and state sponsored.

The Internet relies on functioning encryption to protect users from attack. It is estimated that in 2016 ‘cybercrime’ increased by 30% and cost the Australian economy three billion dollars.[1] Every time a vulnerability is created, such as allowing intelligence agencies to access private communications, it creates another vector for attacks to occur.

“Security online is weak enough without the government pushing to make it weaker,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “Any vulnerability created for intelligence agencies is a vulnerability for people with more nefarious intentions. A good example of this occurred last year when security experts published a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows Secure Boot, a system that is designed to protect systems from hacking. Microsoft included a workaround so developers could test systems without needing to validate the software. This was used to install malware that Secure Boot was specifically designed to stop[2]. With such benign work arounds being exploited for malware, breaking end-to-end encryption would be a disaster in the making.”

“This is the beginning of the next round of ‘crypto wars’ between the government and private citizens. With each new power granted to spies and law enforcement agencies, people concerned with their privacy take new measures to protect themselves from the government,” Mr Frew continued. “Forcing social media giants to employ backdoors in their messaging services will just lead to other platforms being adopted and those who wish to communicate anonymously will continue to do so. Those without technical knowhow to work around broken encryption will be at greater risk.”

“Private communications are vital for an open society. When citizens believe they are under constant surveillance, they self-censor and this creates a chilling effect. Legitimate criticisms of government policy may not be aired and our democracy suffers as a result. This is also a risk to the economy, with businesses relying on encryption to securely do business, weakening encryption puts businesses at significant risk. We call upon the government to abandon its misguided plans to weaken encryption and instead suggest more investment in police resources to manage the known terrorist threats. Increasing the size of the data haystack collected by mass surveillance isn’t working, it has turned everyone into a suspect and eroded the presumption of innocence.” Simon concluded.

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-19/cybercrime,-online-scamming-of-business-up-30pc:-accc/8537992
[2] https://www.wired.com/2016/08/microsoft-secure-boot-hack

The Australian Federal Police have this afternoon admitted[1] to accessing a journalist’s metadata without a warrant. It is less than a year since data retention scheme went live, with all Australian individuals and businesses communications metadata now saved by communications providers. The Pirate Party has warned of this exact scenario occurring since the metadata collection scheme was proposed. It should come as no surprise to anyone with a grain of foresight that this would occur.

“When people campaigning against data retention said ‘get a warrant’, they meant it” said Michael Keating, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “Our fears that anyone with access to the data retention system could access metadata without needing a warrant were not unfounded, and the AFP have confirmed our position as being correct. Setting up a mass surveillance system was always going to lead to egregious breaches in privacy and we only know about this one because the victim was a journalist.”

“What this breach has made clear is that there are no mechanisms in place to deal with failures in the data retention scheme. The victim of the breach has not been notified and to add insult to injury, the AFP have played down the breach by saying “the contents of the call were not accessed,” he continued.

“The AFP clearly do not understand the damage to the privacy of Australian citizens that every improper access to their data brings. They, and indeed any organisation that can access metadata records, should not be trusted with accessing records without a warrant. It should not take a failure of process to prevent individuals privacy from being breached,” Mr Keating said.

“The Pirate Party is committed to repealing the data retention system. It removes Australians’ right to privacy, as the AFP have shown they can access what they like, when they like. Journalists should be asking a lot of questions about this breach. Every individual should be questioning their local member as to their right to privacy” he concluded.

The Pirate Party urges Australians to contact their local member and tell them warrantless access of their metadata is simply unacceptable. The Pirate Party re-affirms its stance to protecting privacy in Australia.

[1] https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/afp-reports-breach-tia-act-commonwealth-ombudsman