Saturday, 18 December 2010

Joining the Twitterati

Since #Cablegate hit the news I've been dipping into Twitter to catch the latest news.  At the same time I've been wondering about my blogging.  It seems harder these days to find the time to sit down and write - but at the same time there is lots of good stuff going on that I want to share.....

So now I can.  As from yesterday you can find me on Twitter ... @DiggersAll.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wikileaks: What the good book says

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known. Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight; what you have whispered in locked rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.”  – Luke 12:2-3

The Bible is not really my cup of tea but this quote is spot on..   so too is the article where I found it -on Daniel Ellsberg's blog, citing a press release by the 'Institue for Public Accuracy' about Wikileaks and the American government's problem with integrity, justice and accountability. 

It was Ellsberg that leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War - and the press release is signed by list of heavy weights all familiar with the predicament Julian Assange & Private Manning now find themselves in.

All power to their elbow...  Go read!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Climate change - ostriches and a train crash

"For January–October 2010, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F) and tied with 1998 as the warmest January–October period on record."

"Sitting here shivering at the end of the coldest late November in living memory (well, in this living memory at any rate) it's somewhat surreal to contemplate the assembled panjandrams of the climate alarmism industry sunning themselves in Cancun while delivering apocalyptic pronouncements of the doom that will befall us should a sufficiently draconian regime of carbon control be imposed upon the world."

Under the title 'Rhetoric and Reality on Climate Change' the Heresiarch kicks off a discussion on whether it would be better to give up any attempt to limit man's climate impact and just start learning to live with the consequences.
"Advocates of action to forestall global warming" are we learn in a "state of desperation". 

It's strikes a disappointingly sceptic tone, but is an interesting read - not least for stating the obvious, that politically we globally don't have our act together.  We are all on board the same train.. and we are heading full speed at the buffers.

Now the little guy at the back of the carriage has tried.. "er, excuse me, but maybe we should slow down?" (many times)..  and the train drivers union has called a meeting to discuss what to do..   And now it's too late to stop the train... we are going to crash.  And the little guy is standing on his chair shouting.  "Use the f****** brakes". 

Hitting the buffers slowly will always be better than charging at them full speed.  Learning to live with the consequences is clearly a something we need to do...  but what we have to live with depends very much on how hard we manage to brake the train. 

Full speed ahead is not the right answer...

Wikileaks: the messenger and the hydra's teeth

You can understand that it is uncomfortable for some to find their dirty washing hanging out in public.  I am all for privacy...

But whose privacy? Do we want privacy for government and surveillance of the individual?  Or the opposite.  Transparency in government and privacy for the individual?

Governments, senior politicians and powerbrokers everywhere are leaning hard to close down Wikileaks...   their DNS servers, their Paypal account.  One is struck by the effort going into closing down the source of the leak - rather than admit to or address the issues raised.. 

But why shoot the messenger?  Whistleblowing is a recognised and protected principle.  Journalistic sources are protected  - for instance in the Swedish constitútion - and in many countries including the US, there are laws protecting individuals rights to blow the whistle on misdoings and get protection for it...   In Britain for instance the Public Interest Disclosure Act covers dicslosure of
  • a criminal offence;
  • the breach of a legal obligation;
  • a miscarriage of justice;
  • a danger to the health or safety of any individual;
  • damage to the environment; or
  • deliberate covering up of information tending to show any of the above five matters
Do the cablegate leaks count?  Well judging by the international coverage of them I'd say the case for public interest is proven.... 

So do we want THEM to put the genie back in the bottle?  To go back to feeding us a massaged variant of the truth?  Well... mixing my metaphors a little - it looks like it is not going to happen.  Wikileak mirrors are springing up all over to carry the torch.  Cut off a head and another grows in its place.

The truth will out... inconvenient or not...

For information on Wikileaks mirrors check here...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Britannia in chains....

"Rule Brittannia, Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never, never shall be made to slaves"

"It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as
  • the Protection from Harassment Act (1997),
  • the Crime and Disorder Act (1998),
  • the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000),
  • the Terrorism Act (2000),
  • the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001),
  • the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001),
  • the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002),
  • the Criminal Justice Act (2003),
  • the Extradition Act (2003),
  • the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003),
  • the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004),
  • the Civil Contingencies Act (2004),
  • the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005),
  • the Inquiries Act (2005),
  • the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005),
not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. "  after Philip Pullman

Just a reminder... 
Not mentioning it doesn't make it go away

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Kinsella: Intellectual property hampers capitalism

Author and patent attorney Stephan Kinsella talks on the incompatibility between intellectual property and capitalism.. or put another way - why patents and copyright are bad for business....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Stoneage copyright?

You might think that if there is something that is out of copyright this is it...  Stonehenge.   Erected more than 4000 years before copyright was even thought of it's hard to think of anything that is more in the public domain.

So it's strange to hear that English Heritage are stomping their way round online photo image libraries to tell them that "all commercial interest to sell images (of Stonehenge) must be directed to English Heritage."

Now it may be that the law gives some support to their claim.. presumably because they own the land it stands on, and photographers were on their property at the time...   If it does though, I can only sat that the law is an Ass.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Aristotle on ideas...

"It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world."

Patents enslave my creativity....

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Seven or point seven? Pirate voting...

Well... that was the election, that was.  The Swedish parliamentary election I mean.... 

And for Piratpartiet it was a generally disappointing 0,7% of the national vote.  Nowhere in the realms of the 7% that the party took in the EU elections.  And so, both in the press and in the party there is some reflection ongoing on what happened and what it means for the future....

Not to be left out,  I'm here to draw my straw to the stack.. with of course the clear benefit of hindsight.

So what is different?

Firstly a lot of the burning issues that were on the table at the EU election are now done deals.
  • the FRA legislation is on the statute book and the state can (and we assume does) routinely monitor calls, mails and surfing across the national border. 
  • IPRED also made it onto the statute book...  ignoring privacy of communications & allowing copyright groups to get personal details on IP addresses suspected of copyright enfringement.
  • The Pirate Bay trial reached a conviction for those in the dock - apparently signalling that linking to copyright material is a no no in the eyes of the law.
Yesterday's news.  Done deals don't make for good press, so without something of current interest it's hard to get airtime to re-open the questions.  More than that though... the lack of clear targets to oppose leaves PP campaigning on principles rather than issues - and that is both harder to get across, and also harder to generate motivation around internally.

Out in the news though it did seem that PP core issues were left on the sidelines.   Piratpartiet did get exposure on topics like child pornography being used as the thin end of the wedge for net censorship but that is such a sensitive topic that it's hard to think that you could ever expect to win votes with it. 

My perception was that the party's image in the press was too closely linked to downloading and copyright, and not enough to privacy and integrity issues. It's an impression reinfoced by the party's choice of issues...  Hosting servers for the Pirate Bay may sound cool, but has zero relevance for most voters.  Likewise hosting Wikileaks...  people are choosing a government not a new data park.

And of course, EU elections are different to national elections.  National questions are  perceived as much more about things that affect our daily life - schools, healthcare, and the money in our pocket at the end of the month.  It was always going to be a challenge to attract voters on the same scale as for the EU election.  Still, for me the party didn't get across how far the threat to our privacy has come - and why it matters enough to put all your vote on that topic. 

0,7% is pretty close to the party's result in 2006 - and a good way from the 4% needed to get in to parliament.  Does a party have a role that can't break past the post

The EU election showed that it does... when a significant minority of people put their vote behind the PPs principles.  Those people are still out there - perhaps with different priorities for a national election -but still out there to be reached.  And more to the point the other parties have seen how the issues can affect their result.  This time both blocs chose to keep integrity off the agenda -  but at the same time perhaps some parties have taken on board copyright, integrity and patent issues in a way not seen before. 

The green parties have been influentual in making the environment a part of mainstream politics - no one can chance not having a policy on it.  Piratpartiet - even without breaking into parliament - has the same role for privacy, integrity and the information society.  Everyone needs to be ready to talk about it..  and maybe that's a first step to getting a recognition that things need to change...

Meanwhile, from the outside at least,  Piratpartiet is proving it's worth in Brussels.  Great credentials to bring to the next fight....   In four years it's both EU and national elections.  Seven or point 7.  Which is going to be?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

We are now entering the Live Age: P2P and the music industry

Matthew David of Brunel University takes an erudite look at Peer to Peer and the Music Industry - the history of the distribution monopoly and the legal, technical, cultural and economic options going forward - both for artists and the recording industry.
From March 2010

Piratpartiet & The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform

Monday, 6 September 2010

ACTA: Treaty without a cause?

The latest leaks on the ACTA treaty show that negotiations have gone a long way to resolving outstanding issues with some ground given by the US.. but some of the worst of the treaty still stubbornly in place. ACTA watchers are not impressed that three strikes still seems to be on the agenda, and that US led pro-DRM measures are included that go beyond the WIPO treaty and even existing US law. 
(More details from Michael Geist and Boing Boing.)

But do we really need an anti-counterfeiting treaty at all?  

Well perhaps not.  The Telegraph reports on a study that shows that the impact of counterfeiting on luxury brands isn't the disaster that it's made out to be... most consumers buying counterfeits aren't being ripped off- they know it's a fake, and they would never have bought an original.... meaning that fashion houses are not losing those sales to counterfeiting.  Counterfeiting is big business -but if it's not done to defraud who is it hurting?

The article is cited in many places... but the original report seems to be more elusive.  You can find it though at the British Journal of Criminology - with the pithy title of:
Jailhouse Frocks: Locating the Public Interest in Policing Counterfeit Luxury Fashion Goods
by David Wall & Joanna Large

Amongst other things it looks at the links between counterfeiting and organised crime ...and has an interesting section on the 'aspirational hierarchy' that binds together both the fashion houses and the counterfeiters.

Read it..  and see if you can find the public interest in ACTA....

PiratpartietBuilding the information society.  Vote Pirate!

Putting principles first. Why a 44-year old who has never downloaded music will vote for the pirates.

It is two weeks to the election here in Sweden.. and social democrat Henrik Brändén and centerist Markus Berglund have writtin an article in the national press to explain why they are leaving their parties and will vote Piratpartiet  instead.  Henrik writes in length on his blog about why after 29 years as a socialdemocrat activist he is placing integrity first and going Pirate.  His article is very good..  and reflects a a great deal of the thinking that led me to see the political importance of the pirate movement in opposing the threat to our privacy and integrity.  Here is just a short translated extract... (the highlight is mine)

How can a 44-year old who has never downloaded music to vote for the pirates?
 When I meet young people today, I see that they, just as we did in my youth, love to talk to each other: about life and love, about politics, philosophy and existential issues. Like when I was young that many make music, poetry, short stories and diaries. But the way is different. My discussions in cafes and on the telephone takes place today with Skype and various instant messaging functions. Where I wrote a letter on paper to send young people today send an e-mail. Where I and my contemporaries had notebooks and loose-leaf with personal notes and literary experiments many of today's young people's have materials in a data space on an external server, so that wherever they find themselves they are be able to access it over the net.

The combination of IPRED-law, the FRA-law and data retention directive does for young people today exactly what it would have meant for me and my friends if there sat microphones under the tables in all Uppsala cafes, our phone calls were tapped and letters ripped up, and also book and music publishers agents always had the right to rummage through our bags. What has happened in recent years is simply that we have taken great strides straight into a surveillance society. Things are a reality today in Sweden and many other Western countries,  that in my youth led us to distance itself from East Germany and other Communist states"

Henrik also explains how he squares his choice with his principles.. and not least how as an author he can support a party seeking copyright reform. 

Which just remains for me to add my belated welcome to Henrik.. 

Arrrrrr!!  Welcome on board

Piratpartiet :  Vote Pirate -  Make your voice heard.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Assange and the He said She said

The press is full of it.... 

..sexual misconduct by Julian Assange that is.  And, while this is a great spectacle it is ultimately not that interesting.  Any trial is going to come down to a simple 'He said, she said' and while there may well be plenty of testimony it's unlikely that we will end up with a a full unbiased opinion of what actually took place. 

To be honest I don't care.  The ladies in question, driven either by the trauma of their experience, their virtuous desire for justice or a 'hell hath no fury' desire for revenge have reported an incident they believe breaks the law. Julian Assange almost certainly has a different interpretation of events...  and a court will decide if he either did, or didn't do something that breaches Sweden's laws. It will sell a lot of papers....

Neither outcome has any particular bearing on the activities of his brainchild Wikileaks

The fact that the case seems to have been badly handled by the Swedish authorities is largely a sideshow.  It seems likely that the way it has been handled falls short of the standards here for legal protection of information on a suspects identity - something they will no doubt get mauled for - but as far as I can see that all hinges on the original prosecutor who, when asked on the phone by a journalist if they had raised a warrant on Assange stupidly said 'yes' rather than 'no comment'.  Journalists we should remember are professionals in weedling information out of people... 

In fact the most interesting thing from my point of view is who tipped off the press?  .. and with what motive?  (...since it resulted in unproven but serious accusations about someone's private life becoming front page news around the globe)

But being Sweden, the press's sources have full legal protection...  so I'm not likely to find out anytime soon.

Friday, 23 July 2010

New technology threatens democracy: European commission reports

"The new technologies inherently tend to shift the balance of power away from the individual towards those who hold data on them: the terms “data subject” and “controller” are gaining deeper, more sinister meaning. Some technologies can sometimes be used to counter some of this - but they are much weaker and often inherently less effective than claimed or believed. Unless we tame the new technologies, their unimpeded use will undermine democratic society itself. And the tool to tame the machine in this respect is data protection."

When a European Commission report talks about impending changes undermining democratic society itself then it's definitely time to sit up and take notice...

Over at The Lift I found a reference to a recent report commissioned by the European Commission on the coming challenges for Data Protection (and by implication privacy).  The report is well balanced and erudite and makes interesting reading... looking at issues like authorities sharing data across international boundaries, data mining and profiling, privacy concerns with social networking, and securing data protection when your web activity itself is not limited to national boundaries.  Or more simply put... how the law needs to evolve to protect your rights to privacy.

The report 'has been kept short' and is only 57 pages...   Good bedtime reading

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Let's play privacy invaders: EU, ACTA and the Digital Economy Act

When I think of privacy I think of going about my business unhindered and unmonitored by the state.. or anyone else for that matter.  It's a right.. and curiously I expect the law to not only respect that right but also to protect it.  But expectations and reality don't always match up.

This week though these are some positive signs that privacy concerns are starting to be taken more seriously. 

First off, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that EU data protection officials have been looking into the EUs Data Retention Directive and how it has been applied in the member states.  Their findings are depressing reading ...
  • Service providers retain and hand over data in ways they shouldn't.
  • data retention often exceeds the maximum allowed under the directive - in some case by as much as eight years!
  • More data is being held than the directive allows - including in some cases message content and not just traffic data.
  • Callers locations are being monitored continuously under a call - contravening the directives provisions
They conclude that
"The provisions of the data retention directive are not respected and the lack of available sensible statistics hinders the assessment of whether the directive has achieved its objectives."

The good news is that it's not until abuses are visible that you can do something about it.  The timing here is also good as the directive is up for review and this can contribute to revision or repeal of the directive which, in my view, inherently is a gross violation of people's privacy.

Meanwhile, the same Article 29 committee has also raised concerns about the privacy implications of the ACTA agreement (see Michael Geist for excellent coverage on ACTA). 

"WP29 emphasizes that any form of large scale monitoring or systematic recording of data of EU citizens would be contrary to the provisions of Directive 95/46/EC since that would affect millions of individuals, regardless of whether or not they are under any suspicion."

After a critical look at other provisions - including making service providers hand over personal data to copyright holders they conclude:

"Copyright infringement needs to be dealt with on a global scale and requires international cooperation. However the way things stand now, several of the proposed measures are in the end bound to interfere with the private life of many citizens.
In the EU, any such interference is subject to EU fundamental rights and must be proportional. Given the aspects of ACTA currently under negotiation and outlined above, the WP29 remains to be convinced that this will be the case."

The third piece of good news is really a consequence of the above... or at least a supporting document from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) giving a full analysis of objections to the three strikes principle.  The Open Rights Group highlight that this expert opinion should have implications for the UK governments Digital Economy Act - at least the parts dealing with combating copyright infringement .

In the words of the EDPS:

"...the monitoring of Internet user's behaviour and further collection of their IP addresses amounts to an interference with their rights to respect for their private life and their correspondence; in other words, there is an interference with their right to private life. This view is in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. "

The bottom line seems to be that letting copyright holders loose as private police with powers to request private details on anyone they choose is likely to end up the wrong side of EU rights legislation....  which would be a welcome victory for our collective privacy.

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Copyright: How long is long enough?

Last week there was a ruling in Australia on what Men At Work get to pay out for having copied a riff from an Australian folk tune published over 70 years ago...  It's actually a folk tune that I learned i school when I was a kid and I have to say I've never even thought about the similarity to 'Down Under'.

It's an interesting reminder though of what it means to have copyright terms that stretch long after an author or artists lifetime.  The band clearly made a fair bit of money from their hit - and now have to take a 5% cut from their royalties to pay... well who exactly?  

The value for society in copyright lies in the ability to stimulate creativity by giving limited monopoly rights to creators.  But here we see that the active creators, the band, are penalised to the benefit of a publishing house who are milking the benefits of someone else's creativity (Marion Sinclair- who died 22 years ago). 

Are long copyright terms really serving society's interests?   Even within a songwriter or artist's lifetime there is a clear disincentive to create new material if existing material continues to enjoy protection for the rest of their life.  The more talented and successful the creator the less incentive they have to work again.  Aren't they just the people that society wants to be most active?

Shorter copyright terms increase incentives to bring out and market new innovative material - and will hugely increase the free availability of older materal to be used in new creative ways.  It should mean a richer world for all of us... though we might hear some complaints from beyond the veil....

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Global warming making a comeback.

Here in Sweden January was a remarkably chilly month, even for Sweden, and with cold winters gripping much of the northern hemisphere there were no shortage of voices ready to use it as evidence that global warming is a myth.  The global temperatures really haven't been rising since the end of the nineties, and a good cold winter is yet more proof that... isn't it?

Sadly it's easy to see what you want to see - the accusation that climate deniers often make against the scientific community.  Equally sadly the cold winters unfortunately don't mean that the climate is cooling.  The latest global measurements show the opposite - the year to date (january to may) is the warmest on record.

Worse... solar output has been declining over the last decade as part of a known solar cycle that has now turned.  The sun is going to be increasing output again which will lead to higher temperatures.  Nothing you read in scientists emails is going to change that.....

Friday, 11 June 2010

Thinking 'After Intellectual Property'

I know. I'm behind the times... but wisdom doesn't age. If you've not seen Steal This Film, do. A great perspective on the intellectual property debate...

"These are strange times indeed. While they continue to command so much attention in the mainstream media, the 'battles' between old and new modes of distribution, between the pirate and the institution of copyright, seem to many of us already lost and won. We know who the victors are. Why then say any more?

Because waves of repression continue to come: lawsuits are still levied against innocent people; arrests are still made on flimsy pretexts, in order to terrify and confuse; harsh laws are still enacted against filesharing, taking their place in the gradual erosion of our privacy and the bolstering of the surveillance state. All of this is intended to destroy or delay inexorable changes in what it means to create and exchange our creations. If STEAL THIS FILM II proves at all useful in bringing new people into the leagues of those now" prepared to think 'after intellectual property', think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity, we have achieved our main goal."

Thursday, 10 June 2010

India goes in to bat against ACTA

Trade is a two way street... and if you decide to make a private club to rewrite the rules it's maybe not surprising that the people you choose to leave out don't have the same rosy view of your club as you do.  At the latest meeting of the World trade Organisation India has been speaking out about ACTA.

"ACTA could short-change legal process, impede legitimate competition and shift the escalated costs of enforcing private commercial rights to governments, consumers and taxpayers. They also represent a systemic threat to the rights of legitimate traders and producers of goods, and fundamental rights of due process of individuals."

Right on the wicket.....   More on India's objections to ACTA over at Michael Geist.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Britannia regains her pride...

The LibDems report on the proposed programme for the new coalition government.

Under Civil Liberties
"The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.


This will include:
  • A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
  • The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
  • Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
  • The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
  • The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
  • The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • Further regulation of CCTV.
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences."
More commentary at Heresy Corner.

Can we get Habeus Corpus back too....?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Big boost in online income for UK Music

(resurrected from my drafts folder...)
PRS for Music - the UK Performing Rights Society has reported on their income for 2009.  It's timely as UK MPs prepare to vote on Digital Britain's future to see what dire warnings it gives about the state of music today... what with all that piracy and all....

So what do we find?
  • income from digital music downloads is up by over 70%
  • income from performances is up by 2,5%
  • income from overseas is up 19%
  • income from recorded media is down 8,7%
  • the rise in income from downloads exceeds the drop in CD sales for the first time.
 It underlines two themes that have been seen before.... that income from live music will be an increasingly important part of an artist's - or songwriter's - income -  and that the music industry needs to provide good commercially attractive online offerings if they want to capture the interest of online music consumers.

Napster was a  decade ago... Did it have to take this long?

Piratpartiet & The Pirate Party -  Make your voice heard.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Britain falls into the democracy gap

Another UK election, and this time it's clearer than ever that first past the post system really doesn't deliver a democratic result. That anyone can defend a political system that delivers such skewed results frankly beggars belief.

Skewed? Well lets see now... The Libdems polled over one fifth of the vote and received about one in twelve of the seats in the house (57) - about 75 seats short of the number that they might expect. Labour's extra six or so percent brought them an additional 200 seats. If it happened in the Ukraine there would be protests on the streets....

Britain though is more worried about a hung parliament. It's better, apparently, to put up with a flawed and biased electoral system than to contemplate that politicians might, perish the thought, be required to co-operate and find what is actually in the national interest.

Language speaks volumes. The very phrase, the Opposition, defines an adversarial role across the benches. Some good old fashioned compromise will do them good...

Whoever ends up wooing the liberal democrats to form a government will do something quite unusual for modern times and actually have a government that represents the majority of the electorate - something that neither the Labour party or the Tories have a habit of achieving in their own right, regardless of how crushing a majority they have in the house. That makes this hung parliament the most legitimate form of representative government in modern times. Is that something to be scared about?

It is at times like these that the 'others' come into thier own - and yes, if you need their support they are going to expect sometrhing in return... but if you can't find a majority of members to support you without those concessions maybe you should wonder if your policy is really what the best thing for the country?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Digital Britain down the drain...

The Digital Economy.. that needs openness and innovation to thrive and grow today lies fettered by the Digital Economy Bill... a bill drafted to serve the interests of vested media industry interests, not to provide vehicle to stimulate and nurture all that the web could provide.  It's a bill that sets economics above rights and political machination above open democratic debate.  It's a bad bill.. and a bad day seeing it on the statute books.

 "I've heard arguments that I should be responsible for the Internet connection I pay for, just as a business is responsible for its network activities. Please! Let's put this into perspective - I'm a working mother of four children aged between 14 and 21. I'm not a network administrator, and pardon me if I'm too busy being a mother to commit my time to monitoring the home Internet connection. Also, even if I somehow managed to look over all four of their shoulders whenever they were online, I wouldn't know what I'm looking at..." Vanessa.. Mother of four

...taken from the comments on an article in the Daily Record  where the Scottich Law Society comment the bill...
 "This in our view raises serious concerns with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law." Law Society of Scotland 

The possibilities for injustice are legend.

I hope our MPs are proud?

"As a twice ex-Whip, I am rather embarrassed by the fact that the Bill is being railroaded through in the wash-up. Frankly, there has been a squalid deal between the three Front Benches, and they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who care about this Bill -and there are many out there -will see that for what it is."  Tom Watson MP

Of course...  politicians are ultimately answerable to us the electorate.... so you might be interested to know which of our representatives had the spine and the vision to vote against the whips in the interests of our digital future...  The full list here

No compromise on Digital Rights..
It's time to vote Pirate!

Piratpartiet &; The Pirate Party -  Make your voice heard.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Vote Pirate!: Pirate Party UK issues it's manifesto

The Pirate Party have now launched their manifesto for the forthcoming UK elections.  There are LOTS of good stuff on the list - including tackling many of the UKs biggest shortfalls in building a free and fair society for the digital age....  in the areas of privacy, surveillance, data protection and intellectual property. It's a manifesto aimed at protecing and strengthening the rights of the individual.

Here is the shortform version..

"We will give the public the following new rights:
  • The right to share files provided no money changes hands.
  • The right to format shift and time shift data. 
  • The right of access to government funded data. 
  • The right to compensation for government data loss. 
  • The right to safely encrypt private data. 
  • The right to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been broken.  
  • The right for constituents to force a by-election. 
  • The right to pay only for the fraction of the claimed broadband speed that an ISP actually delivers. 
  • The right to be a whistleblower. 
  • The right for photographers and filmmakers to go about their business without persecution under anti-terror laws.
  • The right for disabled people to demand an unrestricted version of DRM protected content where that is necessary to allow them to access it.
We will reform outdated laws:
  • We will abolish drug patents, replacing them with subsidies. 
  • We will reduce the length of copyright to 10 years. 
  • We will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research. 
  • We will introduce system of compulsory patent licensing
  • We will reform libel law.
  • We will prohibit the abuse of RIPA powers.
  • We will remove loopholes in copyright and patent law.
We will protect the public from abuses of new technology: 
  • We will forbid third parties from intercepting or monitoring communication traffic
  • We will introduce a mandatory warning label on products that include DRM.
  • We will introduce laws on the acceptable use of CCTV and DNA samples.
  • We will legislate in favour of net neutrality.
  • We will introduce stronger data protection laws
  • We will not allow government censorship of the internet
  • We will put into action the government's Open Source Action Plan.
  • We will require the BBC to release all their content under a Creative Commons licence.
  • We will prevent the BBC from using DRM technology.
  • We will ensure better computing education in schools."
Piratpartiet &; The Pirate Party -  Make your voice heard.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Seeing what you want to see. The ICC Digital Economy report.

Thirty two billion euros and six hundred thousand jobs by 2015.  Those are the losses due to piracy projected by the ICC report "Building a Digital Economy".  Scary stuff...

The report is interesting reading but not totally convincing.  If it were a climate report it's the type of publication that would have climate sceptics baying for blood.  I'll give some comment here and if you want  more analysis read on at  Technollamna, Tumbled Logic, and Open....   Overall the authors I think have done a good job of setting out what they have done, and importantly what they have assumed - and in that sense it's a valuable input to the debate that bears study.

My first and biggest problem with the report is that it sets out to evaluate the damage done by piracy - and as such finds the result it is looking for.  It isn't a holistic view of the economy and doesn't consider balancing factors - like increased bandwidth usage from non-commercial sharing stimulating the telecoms sector.

The basic premise of the report is that the creative industries and supporting sectors are a major part of the economy and are at serious risk from piracy.  They then present figures that show that piracy as they evaluate it amounts to around a 2% of creative industry value.  Noticeable but not at a level that supports the premise that piracy is killing creativity.  Moreover, they include in their assessments non core industry sectors like paper production (and production of physical recording media) which are much more at risk from the rise of the digital economy than they are from piracy.

They then evaluate piracy losses based on two scenarios - one based on forecast growth of file sharing traffic (+18% p.a) - and the other based on overall growth of consumer IP traffic (+24% p.a).  This second scenario, professionally speaking, I consider pure fantasy as consumer IP traffic is likely to be driven by legitimate online and IP-TV rather than an explosive growth in piracy. 
Both scenarios miss an important element in a holistic view - which is the consumer's ability to pay.  Predictions of traffic growth are based on significant reductions in cost per bit.  There is no assumption that consumers are prepared to pay 18-24% per year more for bandwidth - and there clearly is no rationale to think that the value of pirated content conversion to legitimate sales would rise at those rates either. 

Put another way - the study assumes a constant percentage of pirated content is lost revenues.  Households don't have limitless pockets though, so realistically if content piracy increases the hypothetical conversion is likely to fall. Without some validation of what consumer spending trends are for entertainment content the numbers given are just wishful thinking.

In fact, Tumbled Logic suggests why current trends on Torrent downloading could mean conversion of downloads to sales could be as low as 0,5% - which would cut the estimates in this study by a huge 95%.  Assumptions are crucial in reaching a trustworthy result.....

Next we hear how piracy is having huge impacts on the music industry and that reductions in physícal disc sales have collapsed and that piracy must be to blame.  This is supposition not supported by the evidence...  There is clear evidence that revenues from live performances have substantially increased and that the total music industry revenues including these are stable - and further evidence that shows that there is a switch in buying behaviour from music and other passive media to games - a sector that shows significant growth.  Less piracy may have inhibited that shift to live performance and games, but where's the evidence that less piracy would grow the overall available market?

Again, unless a study can substantiate a growth in consumer spending on media over and above existing levels (with for instance cinema attendances at record levels) how can you project huge losses?  Here in lies the rub.... as a consumer if I spend more on music, or TV or video, then I spend less on something else.  So just where is the economy going to be hit if consumers are buying all their content instead of taking a share online?

Lastly, in this whistlestop critique, is the figures for lost jobs quoted...  the hypothesis is that if we increase sales on video 'X' we have more money to employ more people and to create more content.  But is that a realistic view?  Media companies want to maximise their profits, not maximise their output -  and at the end of the day consumers have a finite budget and a finite amount of time to consume content.  Is it a given that higher sales will generate employment? Better sales per production could even have the opposite effect... we don't need to create as many films/songs to generate our sales (and profit) targets - so why dilute the market by creating more content?

Seek.. and you shall find.  But don't believe everything you read!

Piratpartiet &; The Pirate Party -  Make your voice heard.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

ACTA under fire at the EU Parliament

There have been rumblings for some time at the EU Parliament about the negotiations on the ACTA counterfeiting and trade negotiations.  Parliament doesn't like being told they are not allowed to see what the negotiators are agreeing on their behalf and for the benefit or otherwise of Europe's citizens.

Now the decks are cleared and the cannons rolled out and the parliamentarians are taking action.  Christian Engström, Piratpartiet's MEP is one of the movers behind a motion that in fine words tells the Commission to stop fannying around and put all their cards on the table.  Pointing out among other things that
 "the Commission has since the 1 December 2009 the legal obligation to immediately and fully inform the European Parliament at all stages of international negotiations"

But it's not just an armlock to get visibility of what the negotiators are up to - the motion goes further, and places concrete limitations on what the negotiators can sign up for.

" to three-strikes Hadopi-type legislation, and no to searches of laptops, cell phones and other digital devices at the borders by customs officers".

Representation in parliament.  Isn't it wonderful.  Voting on the motion is today... though it sounds like it has broad cross party support which sounds promising.

All quotes from Christian's blog.

(PS: life's kind of busy right now... so blogging is on a bit of a low tide.)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pullmans malevolent voices: Freedom is too hard for you

"And the new laws whisper:

We do not want to hear you talking about truth
Truth is a friend of yours, not a friend of ours "

The quote above, and below, are from "Malevolent voices that despise our freedoms" by Philip Pullman, on Times Online.  Written for last years Convention on Modern Liberty, it is the best thing I've read all year...  This is just a snippet ... I encourage you.  Go read  it all...
(My friend in serendipity was Charles Pooter, at Little Man, What Now?...)

"It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Terrorism Act (2000), the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002), the Criminal Justice Act (2003), the Extradition Act (2003), the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003), the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), the Inquiries Act (2005), the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

And those laws say:
Sleep, you stinking cowards
Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms
Freedom is too hard for you
We shall decide what freedom is
Sleep, you vermin

Sleep, you scum. "

But let's say you are not asleep?  What are you going to do about it???

Piratpartiet & The Pirate Party -  Make your voice heard.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Privacy in public places... and for whom?

There's been an interesting piece in the news here recently .. and to be honest I'd missed it until Rick Falkvinge mentioned it on his blog.  It's about a guy, Jesper Nilsson,  that sees two men coming on strong to two teenagers in the underground and decides to take pictures of it.  The men, as he suspects, are plain clothes policemen, and - in a move that perhaps is strangely familiar to brits reading this -they don't take kindly to having their pictures taken (not least when they hear that the guy in question - Jesper Nilsson - runs an on-line newspage.) 

Jesper reports the whole thing in length on his blog - and I have to say it's only his version of events that is fully reported.  What Jesper goes on to tell is how he is put between a rock and a hard place - delete the pictures or get taken in on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs (or a breach of the peace -"ofredande"). In the end he gives in and deletes the pictures.... and a video film that's been recordig while the 'discussion' has been going on.

 But.. being a resourceful chap - when he gets home Jesper manages to recover the image files from the phones memory - and even to get a (slightly garbled) section of the the film after sending the damaged file off for repair.

These all posted on his blog.  He has reported the policemen and enquiry has been started - and, meanwhile, he policemen have reported him for breach of Swedens PUL - data protection legislation that limits the publishing of individuals personal details (including photos).

The story raises all sorts of interesting questions about public life and privacy.

Are you allowed to photograph policemen doing their job in a public place?
In Sweden at least the answer to this seems to be implicitly yes..  In Sweden you may photograph anyone anywhere, as long as you are in a public place or are not forbidden by the owners of whereever you find yourself.

But is the underground a public place?
Stockholms underground is a public sector utility, run on a day to day basis by a private contractor.  Despite being used by hundreds of thousands of people everyday I suspect it doesn't count though as a public place -  there are for instance guidelines on when you need to ask permission to take pictures or film..  but for non-commercial private use you don't need permission.  (Bear in mind that in a recent IPRED case a password protected server was considered not to be private because it could be accessed by around 20 000 people)

So Mr Nilsson may take pictures as long as he doesn't intend to use them commercially..  or publish them (which begs the question of what happens if you change your mind after you've taken a picture?)

But it seems he thought of publishing them from the start, and has in fact now done so... 

So, if he wasn't allowed to photograph, can a policeman tell him not to?
Assuming they understood the details of the photography policy, shouldn't it still be an employee of the underground that objects to them taking the photo?

Mr Nilsson now has pictures in his phone that he perhaps had no permission to take.  Can a policeman order him to delete them?  Well clearly they can - but in Sweden at least they have no right to.... uncomfortable as it may be to be caught on film in the course of duty, they can't ask you to delete them.

Now the next part is interesting...  because the rules for PUL are different if you are a journalist publishing in the news than if you are an individual posting to an unofficial news channel like a blog.  So..  

You've had a bad day and decide to write about it on your blog.  Do you have to censor it to protect the privacy of individuals that have the main role in the events?   On his blog Mr Nilsson risks running fóul of data protection rules - whereas on his online paper he wouldn't.  Nor do all the mainstreams that have since reported the case - including the names of the policement concerned. Should there be different rights to publish what very much seems to be a topic of real public interest if you choose an unofficial channel?

Now interestingly Mr Nilsson never names the policemen concerned - in fact he complains that they never showed him any identification to show they were in fact policemen.  So - in the context of a public official carrying out their duties in a public place - is there an issue in reporting on their behaviour? What's the balance between accountability of public officials and their right to privacy ? - when that right is being invoked as a threat intended to censor?  While it may be right for a spokeperson for the state to remain anonymous - because it is their official position not their private life that's in the public view -in this case it is just that their alleged behaviour doesn't match up to the expected standard of behaviour that makes publishing the event of public interest.. and even in the state's interest.  Faith in the police depends on just and fair dealing with ALL the public.

And of course...  most importantly, what sort of world are we coming to if policemen are using intimidating threats against a member of the public just because they don't like what they are doing? 
Which is not to say that this is common behaviour in the police - but if what's alleged is true it's an horrific abuse of power.


Lastly.. by way of a footnote..  reading the conditions for taking film and pictures in the underground I spotted that it's not allowed to take commercial pictures of graffiti, people jumping the turnstiles and a range of other things that might show the underground in a negative light.

"Det är heller inte tillåtet att filma eller fotografera vandalisering eller graffiti, så kallad plankning, våld mot resenärer eller personal, rökning eller användande av illegala droger eller personer som vistas i SL-trafiken utan giltig biljett."

 Doesn't that smack a little of censorship???

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Privacy, Copyright & Integrity: Steps in the right direction..

I've been a bit busy recently - but things are happening out there in the big wide world...

You no doubt saw that in Australia they've ruled that an ISP shouldn't be held to account for the content carried...  a revalidation of the 'pure carrier' doctrine with it's analogy in "don't shoot the messenger".  A great commentary on the judgement by Technolama

In the UK, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights were not at all happy with the provisions of the governments proposed Digital Economy Bill - which is hardly surprising but reasuring to hear.  Meanwile the EU parliament think the privacy of their citizens merits protection and have said no to the Swift agreement that gives the USA bulk access to european banking data. Thanks you guys (& gals)!

The EFF today reports on a victory in the US courts that confirms the 'first rights' principle that if you buy something it's yours to enjoy, share and sell as you like - no matter what small print a company may add on the box.  You bought it, you own it.

..and Cory Doctorow explains how if you look into the issues with IP, copyright and innovation you come to very different conclusions than if you crib your research from lobbyists... (from the tireless Michel Geist).

And of course Christian Engström, Piratpartiet's MEP, celebrated making it to the big 50.  Congratulations Christian - keep up the good work!

Friday, 5 February 2010

What makes a pirate?

In an election year in both Sweden and Britain it's interesting to understand - what is a pirate anyway? Or more to the point - what does the Pirate Party stand for?  And that's just the question that Michael Davies has put on his blog with an open letter to Andrew Robinson, leader of the Pirate Party.  He asks a number of pertinent questions, on politics and pirates, on copyright and patents and on the importance of the rights that copyright enforcement increasingly infringes.

The entry has seen promises from both Andrew and Piratpartiet leader Rick Falkvinge to answer in more depth - responses I look forward to reading.  In the meantime, on The Pirate Party Forum, JohnB has given a long and full answer of his own...    and maybe, in the fullness of time I might try and add my view on these questions here...

Put simply...  the internet has brought huge changes in how we communicate - and equally huge changes in the possibilities to track and monitor our everyday lives.  How society decides to use or constrain these forces, for better or worse, is an intensely political question and one which demands focus and attention by us, the populace - otherwise other interests in industry, law enforcement and in government will do what they can get away with.  They will do what they can - not what they should.

If you want it any other way you need to make your voice heard.

Shouting louder, means shouting in unison.... 

Welcome on board.....

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Old Bill and the Geraniums: A digital fable

Old Bill the pirate woke up one fine sunny morning and looked out his window. The view was nice but something was missing. "What I need" he thinks "are some flowers for my windowboxes". And so, after breakfast, Bill went down to Mr Warmer's nursery and bought a dozen big geranium plants.

"They're a beautiful colour" said Bill.
"Aren't they just. " said Mr Warmer warmly "I call them 'Copper riots'. I bred them myself."

Old Bill took his geraniums home and soon had the finest windowboxes in the village... Everyone that passed said how nice they were, and everyone that asked he told them how he'd got them from Mr Warmers.

The plants thrived in the sunshine and pretty soon they were big and bushy. "I could take some cuttings" thought Bill .. and so that's just what he did. But he didn't need lots more geraniums really so when the cuttings were ready he put them in a box on his veranda with a BIG sign saying 'Geranium cuttings, Help yourself'. His neighbours, and his friends and even a few folk he didn't know did just that.

It happened though that Mr Warmer was passing by and he saw the box of cuttings and stopped and said "You can't do that Old Bill - you've copied my geraniums and now you're giving them away. That's stealing! If you don't stop that at once I'm going to call the police." Poor Old Bill didn't know what to say..... but as it happened he didn't need to say anything for just then the vicar came by and overheard their conversation.

"But Mr Warmer, what an extraordinary thing to say...." he chimed in cheerfully. "Those are the geraniums that came from your nursery" - pointing to the window boxes "..and Old Bill paid you for those. These are his cuttings... anyone can see that. I think it's really public spirited of him to share them like this. Don't you? Think how it will brighten up the village with a nice splash of colour!"

"But they're my Copper Riots! He copied them! " said Mr Warmer, getting hot under the collar...

"But Mr Warmer", said the vicar - "he just grew new ones... with a bit of sunshine and water and some tender loving care... (and a little help from the Almighty) .. That's hardly stealing now is it?"

"How would it have been for our Lord if he'd stood there with five loaves in his hand feeding the multitude and the baker came and said 'You can't do that, you're copying my bread...'"

"You do see don't you?"

Mr Warmer looked at his shoes, and shook his head and went on his way mumbling... about how he was going to stop selling physical geraniums and just licence digital copies, and ask the mayor if he couldn't send the police round to check that no-one else was growing cuttings without him knowing, and wondering if he could get someone to watch Old Bill's house just in case he was 'up to something'.

"What a funny character" said Old Bill.
"Oh he's all right really" said the vicar. "He just gets these funny ideas...
By the way... my wife's got some fuschia cuttings on the go if you'd like some?
.. and you don't happen to have the recipe for those lovely scones you did for the church fête do you? They were very good...."

And the moral of this story?

The Vicar says.... 'Sharing is Caring'...

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party - Working for copyright reform.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Difficult choices?

 I enjoyed this too much not to post....

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Spies in the sky

Back from a Christmas break, John Lilburne is back with a pithy snippet on UK police plans to use surveillance drones for ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, ­protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers".

But surely... isn't "routine" monitoring an invasion of privacy?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Their Lordships on the Digital Economy

The Pirate Party wiki has an interesting page with extracts from the second reading from the House of Lords on the Digital Economy Bill. Some of the quotes I have to say (but not all) are perceptive and spot on the mark...

"There is a huge danger here. A huge group of our people are doing something that they do not think is wrong or a crime. It is dangerous for us to be putting into effect legislation that puts a whole lot of people in a criminal situation when they do not think that they are committing a crime."   Lord Mitchell

"On the whole, the small people will not be protected by patent law because they cannot afford it. There will be no one on the internet looking for their songs being downloaded and no one interested in pursuing those cases. The small people are already putting their stuff out through other methods." Earl of Erroll

"The information obtained by copyright owners, and in a sense laid before ISPs, is allegations of breach of copyright, not infringements in themselves."  Lord Clement Jones
"Checking on other people’s internet traffic to see whether file-sharing is taking place is akin to opening somebody’s post in envelopes to see whether they have illegally photocopied books"  Baroness Miller

There are lots more - interesting reading...

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party - Working for copyright reform.

Urgent: Tell Parliament what you think about your rights

The Joint parliamentary committee on  human rights are currently looking for submissions on human rights issues relating particularly to proposed legislation.  I came across it quite by chance - but it is a superb opportunity for interested citizens to get their views across - but you need to act now!

From the press release:
"The Joint Committee on Human Rights scrutinizes every Government Bill for its compatibility with human rights, including common law fundamental rights, the Convention rights protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the human rights contained in other international obligations of the UK. The Committee's scrutiny of Bills for compatibility with the requirements of human rights law includes consideration of whether the Bill presents an opportunity to enhance human rights in the UK. The Committee is actively seeking to encourage more input from civil society into its legislative scrutiny work.

Further to the Committee's press notice of 28 July 2009, on the Government's draft legislative programme for 2009-10, the Committee has now identified the following nine priority areas for scrutiny in 2010, based on the significance of the human rights issues involved and the likelihood of legislation being passed before the end of the parliamentary session. The Committee would welcome short submissions of up to 1500 words from interested parties by Monday 18 January."
(my highlight)

The areas for submission cover:
  • lllegal File Sharing
  • DNA & Fingerprints
  • Domestic Violence
  • Stop & Search
  • Enforceable Entitlements for parents and pupils
  • Mandatory Sex and Relationships education
  • Reporting of family court proceedings
  • Entitlement to personal care at home
  • Asylum support and destitution
The press release includes more details on the rights implications of each of these topics.  It also says where to send your submission.  There is a mail address but you are also asked to send a signed hard copy (which hopefully can be accepted after the submission date).

Time is short, so if you have views on the above - and several of them have privacy issues and issues areound respect for your private life - then you need to set aside some time during the next few days to put down your views.

Resources to help formulate your submission:e.g on copyright policing

Open Rights Group on Digital Economy Bill
Liberty on the Digital Economy Bill
Latest News on the Digital Economy Bill

There are I'm sure others - I welcome constructive additions in the comments.


Updated:  now with the link to the press release!  Damn....  

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The right of the people to be secure... against unreasonable searches and seizures,

Keeping on the subject of the European Court of Human Rights decision on the powers to stop and search under the UKs Terrorism Act 2000 the Heresiarch has a superb piece on why the Act isn't in any way fit for purpose.  The statistics he gives are scary...  100 000 searches a year or more...  and not a single terrorist related charge.  ..just a well oiled machine for intruding on people minding their own business.  Search without probable cause...  means you're probably not going to find anything doesn't it?

Curiously enough powers of random search were just one of the things that sparked discontent in the colonies across the pond way back when, prompting the American Fourth Amendment. Is it so hard to remember the lessons of history?

We've not learnt much in two hundred years have we?

The right to defend your rights...

Since 2010 opened its doors there has been an interesting debate going on here in Sweden about the ethics of breaking the law.  It all started, as things often do, with an idea...

In this case it was Peter Sunde, of Pirate Bay fame, who mooted an idea to circumvent Swedens FRA surveillance legislation by getting operators to bundle cross border traffic in encrypted tunnels...  Meaning in simple terms that operators can comply with the law by handing over all cross border traffic - but that they at the same time make life very hard for anyone trying to eavesdrop.

Journalist Andreas Ekström took umbrage and criticised Peter's position because it's undemocratic for people to choose which laws they (agree with) and want to follow.  ...which in this case means it's undemocratic to want to find a way to not have your mail, telephone calls and SMSs intercepted and snooped on.  Our democratically elected representatives have decided that's how it's going to be...  and so our is but to dutifully follow. 

There has, perhaps unsurprisigly, been much written on rights and wrongs of finding 'work arounds' to the law.  Although perhaps I'm a little surprised.  As far as I can tell Peter's idea is entirely legal - even if it would severely handicap th FRAs ability to keep tabs on things.  As any accountant can tell you there is a big difference between tax planning and tax avoidance.  If the law doesn't prohibit you doing something how can it be against some 'democratic principle' of compliance?  Though it's worth asking yourself the question of do you consider it your democratic duty to follow all laws even if they are against your own personal moral principles

(I'd just add at this point that laws don't actually forbid you from doing things - they define things you shouldn't do and the penalty you may suffer if caught........   then it all omes down to choice...)

However...  the one piece that caught my eye in the whole affair was an article by Rick Falkvinge on democracy and human rights (which for me at least was related to the same debate). In this case Rick explores why democracy and human rights are not the same thing - inspite of an oft shared view that democracy implicitly works to protect your rights. If a law is democratically introduced that infringes on your (or someone elses) rights - like your right to privacy.  What then.  Are you just going to quietly comply?

Politicians have a habit of drafting laws that are implicitly in violation of our rights - like surveillance by the FRA - and like the protection of Terrorism Act.  We implicitly can be expected to defend our rights...

And fortunately, with a little help, we can also see our rights vindicated as in this weeks judgement that:
".. the Court of Human Rights ruled that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the broad police power for stop and search without suspicion) violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights." (Liberty)

But wouldn't it be nice to have politicians that actually worked in your interests to protect and defend your rights in the first place?

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Putting privacy first.

Information politics. Share the news.

There is a new site for all your 'infopolitics' news.....   set up by Piratpartiet and the Greens in the European Parliament is a news aggregation site for english language news on information politics.   Awareness is an important part of getting our message across so this I see as a great step forward.

Spread the news.....  

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hot and cold... Climate games

It''s chilly... Snowstorms in the UK and a seriously whiite winter here in Stockholm. europe is getting a taste of siberian weather, and perhaps unsurprisingly commentators are already queuing up to say that chilly winters shows global warming is a sham...

Strange then that while we are casting round for another sweater Australia is is the grip of a heat wave - after the warmest decade on record..

Global warming is just that- a global phenomenon. A little weather here doesn't in any way change that...

A thought for the New Year

"För vem vågar man lita på i ett samhälle vars värdegrund bygger på misstro?"

Who can you depend on in a society who's basic values are built on mistrust?

Comment to an article on new surveillance powers in Bulgaria...

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party - Putting privacy first.

OiNK - news or propaganda?

Andrew Norton at Politics and P2P has been reading the news... specifically coverage of the soon to restart trial of Alan Ellis for running BitTorrent tracker OiNK. But as Andrew points out the piece is full of inaccuracies and misinformation - particularly the popular fallacy that trackers store and copy copyright material. 

Andrews criticism was pointed first at the Northern Echo, who were quick to respond and correct their article... but it was based on information from the Press Association - which means that it will be spread all across the news.

Inaccurate reporting is misleading...
Misinformation is propaganda....

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party - Working for copyright reform.