Pirate Party Australia, a political party dedicated to defending digital rights, personal privacy, and promoting government transparency, proudly announces its endorsement of the Brisbane Assange Campaign and the upcoming conference, “The Persecution of Truth.” The event will be held on 30 April 2023, at the State Library of Queensland Auditorium 1 in South Brisbane.

As a long-time advocate for free speech, press freedom, and government accountability, Pirate Party Australia recognises the importance of supporting the cause of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. His work in exposing government wrongdoing and advocating for transparency aligns with the party’s core values and mission.

The conference, featuring an impressive line-up of speakers, including John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, Afghan War whistleblower David McBride, and members of Assange’s legal team, will delve into Assange’s achievements, his ongoing persecution, and the role of journalism in modern society.

Pirate Party Australia encourages its members and supporters to attend “The Persecution of Truth” conference to demonstrate solidarity with Assange and raise awareness about the broader implications of his case for press freedom, individual liberties, and democracy. The event offers attendees a unique opportunity to engage in discussions and plan for future actions to support Assange and his cause.

Together, we can build a movement that challenges the status quo, supports press freedom, and fights for the rights of whistleblowers and truth-tellers.

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Pirate Party Australia is a political party committed to defending digital rights, privacy, and internet freedom. The Party is deeply concerned about the government’s push for mandatory online age verification and advocates for a more balanced and privacy-respecting approach. Miles Whiticker, President of Pirate Party Australia, asserts “While we recognise the need to safeguard children in the digital realm, we must not compromise the privacy and autonomy of all users in pursuit of this goal.”

The implementation of a digital identity scheme for age verification raises serious concerns regarding data privacy and security, as it could expose users to identity theft, privacy breaches, and unauthorised surveillance. Additionally, this approach may disproportionately affect marginalised communities, who are more vulnerable to the repercussions of such privacy intrusions. Mr Whiticker’s passionate stance underlines the urgent need for a more balanced and privacy-conscious solution to protect children online, without sacrificing the rights and freedoms of internet users.

Pirate Party Australia advocates for a comprehensive strategy that encompasses the reform of classification and classification review boards, the introduction of a co-regulatory classification model, and generalising this model to cover online safety. As we move toward a future where the distinctions between various media become increasingly blurred, it is essential to establish a versatile classification system capable of managing all types of media.

The proposed co-regulatory classification model calls for the industry to take responsibility for classifying their own content while working in conjunction with the government to establish classification ratings. This approach, inspired by the European PEGI model and the American ESRB model of voluntary classification for media, would be expanded to include websites. Websites would opt in to display clear visual labels and incorporate metadata tags for easy identification. This would enable parents to effortlessly block access to websites that have not opted in, or not been labelled at the desired classification, at the device level, offering a flexible and efficient solution for safeguarding children from age-inappropriate content.

It is important to consider that this approach is likely to inadvertently block websites that are appropriate for children but have not opted into the system as we saw with the Kevin Rudd’s 2009 attempt at a “Great Australian Firewall”. While these websites can be individually whitelisted by parents, we would encourage the government to coordinate with international partners to ensure that this system can be widely adopted globally. The Party believes that this universal approach will effectively safeguard children online while upholding the privacy and autonomy of all internet users.

In addition, the Party encourages open communication between parents and children, as well as digital literacy programs and online safety education to support a secure online environment for children.

The Pirate Party is concerned about the ongoing attempts by Australian state and federal government to centralise and make available the private health data of ordinary Victorians as seen in the recent Health Legislation (Information Sharing) Bill 2023 (Vic).

Quote by Miles Whiticker, Pirate Party Australia National President:

“The current form of the bill is a significant threat to Victorians’ right to privacy. By not allowing patients to opt out of the scheme, we are creating a dangerous precedent that undermines the autonomy and privacy of every individual in the public health system.”

In 2018 the Pirate Party participated in the national campaign to encourage an individual opt out of MyHealthRecord[1], raising concerns about privacy and data security. We recognise the same issues re-emerging with this information sharing bill, particularly regarding the lack of an opt-out option and the implicitly increased risk of such a centralised data repository.

Quote by Simon Gnieslaw, spokesperson for the Pirate Party in Victoria:

“The Optus, Medibank and Latitude Financial data breaches are just the tip of the iceberg. Well before that, Medicare was compromised too. Data security in this country is an absolute joke, governments don’t even pay bug bounties – leaving no incentive for the “good guys” to find the problems first. This is not a question of “if”, but “when” this data will be hacked, or even be abused by the Government itself.

WorkSafe Victoria[2] started a legal battle in 2021 to get access to contact tracing data to investigate a workplace safety issue, despite assurances that this data would only be used for contact tracing. The Victorian Government’s response to this was to attempt to suppress the fact that WorkSafe were requesting the data, instead of blocking the request. Had they been successful, we wouldn’t even have known that this data was being abused. How are we meant to trust government with our data?

The risk of our personal health information falling into the wrong hands, aside from being ‘none of their business’, is that if that data gets into the hands of private health insurers, they could essentially cheat the system by jacking up the premiums for people who they know are high-risk to unaffordable levels, which defeats the whole purpose of what insurance is for.”

The Pirate Party joins with Liberty Victoria [3], the Law Institute of Victoria [4], Australian Doctors Federation [4], Australian Privacy Foundation [4], , and Digital Rights Watch [5] in voicing concerns over the lack of patient privacy protections in the proposed bill. In particular we support the proposal of Liberty Victoria by calling for best practices in data protection, minimising data collection, requiring an opt-in for data sharing and supporting an explicit right to privacy.

Whiticker added, “At Pirate Party Australia, we have always stood for the protection of digital rights and privacy. This bill, in its current form, goes against our core values. We urge the Victorian Government to reconsider the bill and implement stronger privacy safeguards, including the ability for patients to opt out of the system.”

“We understand the need to improve efficiency and coordination within the healthcare system but this cannot come at the cost of sacrificing the privacy of Victorians. We must find a balanced solution that protects both the welfare of patients and their personal information.”

[1] https://pirateparty.org.au/2018/08/21/pirate-party-australia-supports-opting-out-from-federal-governments-myhealth-record-system/
[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-28/victorian-government-covid-contact-tracing-legal-fight/100728412
[3] https://libertyvictoria.org.au/content/liberty-victoria-comment-health-legislation-amendment-information-sharing-bill-2023-vic, accessed 2/4/2023
[4] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/absolute-authority-call-to-halt-plan-to-collect-all-victorians-medical-records-20220309-p5a33m.html, accessed 2/4/2023
[5] https://digitalrightswatch.org.au/2023/02/23/vichealthinfosharing/, accessed 2/4/2023

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