Pirate Party Australia, a political party focused on digital rights and civil liberties, acknowledges the potential risks posed by TikTok, but also emphasises the importance of a measured and evidence-based approach when addressing these concerns. While we understand the importance of national security, we must also protect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. An outright ban on TikTok could set a dangerous precedent for censoring other platforms in the future. We encourage open dialogue and cooperation between the Australian government, TikTok, and the international community to address the concerns raised.

Pirate Party President Miles Whiticker said, “A better, more general, approach would be to require all government software to be open sourced. That way we can leverage the open source community to provide decentralised security.”

Pirate Party Australia also recommends that the government focuses on implementing comprehensive data privacy laws and transparent regulations that apply to all tech companies operating in Australia. This approach would ensure that any concerns about data security and privacy are addressed uniformly across the industry, rather than singling out individual companies. These regulations would establish controls on how and where Australian user data can be stored and whether it may be transmitted overseas.

Pirate Party Australia reiterates the importance of an individual right to privacy, augmented by heightened security standards around private data. Individuals must have a legally protected right to control data collection on devices they own, including making decisions regarding data retention, encryption, transmission, and deletion. The Pirate Party also calls for raising the floor for privacy protection in Australia, urging the adoption of higher privacy standards for entities that handle private data, including requiring entities to complete Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) that encompass binding data security safeguards. Pirate Party Australia believes that these policies will not only address concerns over TikTok but also contribute to fostering a more secure, privacy-conscious digital environment for all Australians.

Pirate Party Australia is also urging the government to work with app store providers and international partners to develop and implement a standardised disclosure system for apps that may be subject to data access legislation by the Australian government or foreign governments. The proposed system would require app developers to clearly label and provide information about potential access to user data, including where it might be used by marketing companies, law enforcement, foreign governments, or machine learning algorithms.

Pirate Party President Miles Whiticker said, “By increasing transparency and providing Australian citizens with accurate and accessible information, we can better protect digital privacy and maintain trust in the digital ecosystem. We believe this approach addresses national security concerns while maintaining the protection of individual liberties and fostering a more informed and engaged digital citizenship.”

The party’s position aligns with growing concerns about the potential for foreign government influence and data privacy issues associated with apps like TikTok. Pirate Party Australia continues to advocate for policies that protect individual privacy.

The Pirate Party, a political party in Australia that champions freedom of information and culture; civil and digital liberties; privacy and anonymity; government transparency; and participatory democracy, stands in solidarity with the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement in Iran, which has gained momentum following the tragic death of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa (Jina) Amini in morality police custody over an alleged hijab violation[1]. The Party strongly condemns the oppressive measures faced by Iranian school girls, including discriminatory dress codes, restrictions on access to education and opportunities, and the recent poisonings in cities across the country[2].

“The ongoing oppression of Iranian women, particularly young school girls, is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights,” says Miles Whiticker, President of Pirate Party Australia. “We support the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement in their fight for gender equality, human rights, democracy, and the right to live free from discrimination and persecution.”

Pirate Party Australia recognises the right to self-determination and notes that the Senate Inquiry’s report suggests the “unanimous view” of Iranians and Iranian Australians who have engaged with the inquiry is that the “regime will not listen to its people and will not reform.” The report states that Iranians from all walks of life remain steadfast in their call for political change, and they do so in full knowledge of the existential threat that challenging the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran represents [3].

Pirate Party Australia echoes the the Senate Committee’s deep concern about “credible allegations of intimidation and threats against Australian citizens, residents and their families.” The inquiry’s final report called on the government to “minimise relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran to the greatest extent possible in recognition of the appalling behaviour of the regime” and that “any Iranian officials in Australia considered to be involved in intimidation, threats, or monitoring of Australians be expelled.” The Senate inquiry also recommends listing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group and implementing further Magnitsky sanctions [3]. Such actions would be supported by Pirate Party Australia.

Pirate Party Australia calls on the international community, specifically organisations such as UN Women, to take notice of the plight of Iranian women and girls and to support efforts to promote gender equality and human rights in Iran.

Pirate Party Australia also calls on the Australian government to take immediate action in support of Iranian women and girls, particularly those fleeing persecution. We urge the government to increase the allocation of humanitarian visas and expedite the processing of asylum applications for women and girls escaping discrimination, violence, and other forms of persecution in Iran.

We in the Global North are not without our abuses or hypocrisies; Australia has a long history of mistreatment of its First Nations people, for example. But our own transgressions should not prevent us from seeing problems in the world, though we should certainly be humble and circumspect along the way.

The Pirate Party endorse the freedom of religion and respects individual’s rights to hold their own beliefs. However, we firmly advocate for the separation of church and state to ensure that religious beliefs do not unduly influence government decisions. It is important to recognise that adherents of any faith can contribute positively to society, as long as the principles of secularism and pluralism are upheld within government institutions. By prioritising these values, we can foster a more inclusive and equitable society where all citizens have the opportunity to thrive regardless of their religious affiliations.

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-23/what-happened-to-mahsa-mini-iran-protests-death-iranian-women/101467612, accessed 21/03/23
[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-05-12/third-afghan-girls-school-hit-by-mass-poisoning/1680592, accessed 21/03/23
[3] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-01/senate-inquiry-iran-human-rights-abuses-report-irgc-terrorists/101917152, accessed 24/03/23

On Thursday, February 2, 2023, a combined meeting of the National Council and the Foreign and International Relations Committee formally moved a motion of support for Pirate Party Australia to seek ordinary membership of Pirate Parties International. The motion was passed unanimous approval of all present, and followed a two year review process by delegates of Pirate Party Australia into the operations and activities of Pirate Parties International (PPI).

National President Miles Whiticker provided the following report:

“At the PPI General Assembly on Saturday, January 28, our delegation was sponsored to address the Assembly by the Pirate Party of Israel. On behalf of the Australian Pirates, I gave an address indicating the success of our electoral coalition, Fusion, as well as the regret we felt at being the last Pirate Party in the Asia-Pacific region actively contesting elections. We have a duty to represent the region among the international movement and can operate to support so-called ‘lone pirates’ across the Asia-Pacific without a local party of their own to join.”

The decision for whether Pirate Party Australia will formally apply for membership to Pirate Parties International will go before its National Congress in July 2023 for a vote of all members.

The Pirate Party unreservedly condemns all violent attacks on democratic institutions. In particular, organised sieges [1] such as we have seen recently in Washington and Brasilia, undermine the ability of democratic institutions to maintain the smooth transition of power essential to the continuity of democratic governance.
The Pirate Party applauds the swift action of the judiciary to prevent both a coup and the concomitant violent escalation by those taking part in the armed uprising against the elected government [2].

We note the grave danger of violent actions such as those seen in Brasilia in January spreading globally, in the wake of the January 6, 2021 events in Washington DC, USA, and that the violence in Brasilia in January was fomented by actors also involved in fomenting the Washington riots [3].

The Pirate Party recognises the deep frustration of voters whose interests are not well represented by the major parties (In Brazil, the Liberal Party and the Workers Party). But we always encourage effective political organising and peaceful protest; never violence. In particular, the Pirate Party wishes to call out, in the wake of these fatal riots which threatened an elected government, the ongoing dangers of political manipulation in the current environment of media concentration and poorly regulated transnational social media conglomerates. Fascist imagery [6]; baseless but repeated claims of multiple voting and hacked voting machines; fake electoral maps; and localised narratives from QANON sources [4] all played a part in legitimising the violence unleashed after the election, and echo the narratives last year when “anti-vaccine mandate protesters, sovereign citizens and conspiracy theorists… gathered outside the governor-general’s official residence in Canberra.” [5].

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/08/world/americas/brazil-election-protests-bolsonaro.html
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/01/12/brazil-riot-asset-freeze/
[3] https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2023/01/09/the-american-politics-of-brazils-insurrection-00077131
[4] https://gnet-research.org/2022/11/04/social-media-conspiracies-and-brazils-presidential-transition/
[5] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7609920/protesters-surround-government-house/
[6] https://www.plenglish.com/news/2022/11/04/germany-condemns-use-of-nazi-salute-during-protests-in-brazil/