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.