Canada’s Election: A Review of the Pirate Party Platform on Digital Issues

We are reviewing party platforms for this years Canadian election. We’ve done all of the major political parties at this point in time, but it really seems necessary to fall back on the Pirate Party over these digital issues given the poor performance of all of the parties we have reviewed so far.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

We have finished reviewing the platforms for the Liberals, Bloc Québécois, NDP and the Green Party on the issues of privacy on the internet and copyright. I can admit at this point that it’s getting very depressing reviewing these, so I have chosen to review the Pirate Party.

The platform of the Pirate Party can be found on their official website. It isn’t a PDF and is more HTML based.

The Pirate Party Platform

For the first time, the issue of copyright is the very first issue that is brought up in the platform:

1. Copyright Law
* Reinforce and protect fair dealing.
* Decriminalize non-commercial file sharing, and prohibit statutory damages for non-commercial sharing.
* Allow content creators to explicitly dedicate material to the public domain.
* Reform crown copyright to ensure open access to Canadians.

From an artists perspective, the first point hits my concerns very nicely. I’ve always felt that a broad and more open fair dealing regime really strengthened and stimulated creativity. The second point is excellent from a consumers perspective because I don’t think it really makes sense to treat non-commercial infringement the same as commercial infringement. Sometimes, lawmakers and lobbyists don’t want that distinction so they can have, in a way, a lottery in reverse where multi-national corporations pick a random target and bleed as much money out of them as possible through a heavily flawed copyright regime to help salvage their business model that has long since been obsolete. It never seemed right and the more most people look in to such activity, the more others tend to agree. The third point is interesting because I thought that creators could submit content to the public domain through Creative Commons. No rights reserved is, to my knowledge, public domain. I admit that I’m less familiar with the last point, but I do know that it doesn’t make sense that the government can copyright work when it’s paid for by the public to begin with. So, that’s an interesting point.

Further down, we have the following:

3. Privacy
* Enforce the same privacy laws on electronic communication as the traditional postal service.
* Strengthen the powers of Privacy Commissioner.
* Fight bills and regulation that violate your right to personal privacy.

I really like the perspective on the first point. If one were to send something online with the intention that only the receiving end will read it, why not treat it like the postal service? Yes, one can post something publicly, but should an individual elect to make the communication private, why deny that person the choice of making something private? The second point is quite nice because the privacy commissioner has been known to do some excellent work over the years. I think good work should be rewarded and/or encouraged in government. The last point pretty much reinforces the first point, but I think it’s worth repeating that any bill that targets personal privacy should be treated with scepticism. Are checks and balances in place? If not, why are we even considering any privacy busting legislation?

It seemed like we got what we came for, but there is one note worth posting about and that’s the last point on the platform:

7. Protecting Canadians’ Charter Rights
* The Pirate Party will stand up against violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly infringement of freedom of expression and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

This pretty much cements what has been said above. Mentioning our rights really does put a smile on my face since it seems that our rights are constantly being eroded by domestic policy making – particularly in the areas we are targeting with these reviews. So, top marks all around.

Overall Impression

I’ve spoken from time to time with members of the Pirate Party of Canada in the past online and the overall positions I’ve heard discussed are pretty much mentioned in the platform itself. The party wants to protect sound copyright lawmaking and they even care about online privacy. When the bar seems to be set so low by other parties, it seems pretty easy to go clear over the bar and set a higher standard for online issues. So, thumbs up for that. I would go so far as to say if all issues of privacy were removed from the platform, the platform would still get a thumbs up from me.

If the election were decided on these issues, it’s very easy for me to vote Pirate Party. Good platform on these issues and even if they didn’t have much of a track record per-se, I’d say the platform pretty much sells itself on these issues.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.