KOMPASS – PoliticalTalks: Why Europe Needs "The Pirate Party"!


Some of the Pirate Party‘s main issues were affected by actions of several foreign government organizations. The population of European member states was affected. NSA‘s “PRISM” as well as the British “Tempora” program have recently been leaked by ex-agent Edward Snowden who considered personal rights of people living outside US-borders being attacked. Even the European Parliament has been “bugged” by American Agents. 


Amelia, what do you as a member of the European Parliament consider an adequate response to voters asking: 

What can Europe do to prevent member states from being under unchecked surveillance by non-European agencies?

The most defining issue will be the data protection regulation, but also how we see Europe as a continent. Data protection is actually a European speciality, a regulatory framework and a series of big research and innovation investments that we‘ve made in Europe in order to continue being good with human rights. We have a lot of good innovations, companies, researchers and knowledge, both on the technical and the sociological side. We have the European Union because military rule was not so good, and when our militaries were still always arguing it made us all feel bad and additionally many of us died. The European Convention of Human Rights codifies a strong framework for

privacy and self-determination because it is a pre-requisite for democracy and a free society, and now we‘re up to the test if we‘re able to build a society where those values

The problem for Europe is that we‘re often petty with each other: sometimes it comes across as if European member states prefer bitching with each other rather than finding a common goal to strive for, such as human rights and democratic values. After investing insane amounts in privacy-friendly technologies – why are we not creating a regulatory framework for a market where they can thrive? Instead, we often even actively make it difficult to use privacy-friendly technologies. This is clearly not in our best mutual interest.

Sometimes I feel many older citizens still harbour remnants of a certain Cold War romanticism. This is strange because when I grew up in the 90s, I was told it wasn‘t all that great.

The data protection regulation though needs to accomplish more than merely establishing a status quo with respect to the 1995 directive. We need a positive vision for the future, and we need to create/shape the terms and conditions for the world as we want it. I think we can deal with wanting human rights for European citizens. There are also other legislative frameworks that we need to go over things like how do we adjust energy law, public governance law, transport law etc. to a privacy friendly future as well.

Christian, states tend to collect large amounts of data.
Information created by technological processes on the internet, like motion profiles, search requests and personal contacts of mobile-phone users, are of particular interest to special branches.

What can be done to protect the EU population and legislation from that kind of illegal data mining?

Do we need protection laws?

Of course we need data protection laws. When I give out personal data to either a company or a public authority, I have a right to demand that the data is only used for the purpose it was collected for and that I have given consent to. Just because some companies think they can make more money if they can do whatever they like with my data is not an argument to let them.

To protect the EU population, it has become obvious that we cannot send sensitive data, such as personal data, to any servers that are located in the US. In the US there are almost no restrictions on what companies are allowed to do with our data, and literally

no restrictions at all on what the NSA will do with it (whether legally or not).
We need to do two things to start rebuilding public confidence in the internet: pass strong data protection laws here in Europe, and start making sure that personal data about Europeans stays within Europe as far as possible.

Christian, what will be the most important topics the European Parliament will have to discuss in the near future?

The NSA scandal has already led to calls from the European Parliament to get the facts on the table about what the US has been doing, and to what extent various EU governments have been accomplices. We need to get the Data Protection Regulation passed in a strong form that really protects the privacy of our citizens.

We need to continue fighting for real net neutrality. This is very urgent, since EU commissioner Kroes has put a proposal on the table that pretends to favour net neutrality, but in fact does the very opposite by endorsing “managed services”. If her proposal gets adopted the way it is written, it would in practice mean that the big telcos can act as gatekeepers to the internet and extort whatever price they want from successful companies.

On copyright, our long term goal is comprehensive copyright reform to legalise file sharing and setting all non-commercial use free, but this will take a while. Right now, I am working on two dossiers in the Legal Affairs Committee JURI: the “CRM directive”, which aims at getting at least some basic transparency and proper accounting into the collecting societies, and a revision of the system of copyright levies. The copyright levies ought to be abolished as soon as possible, since the have no moral justification and are really harmful to the internal digital market.

Christian, what could Pirate Parties contribute to the parliamentary agenda after the elections in 2014?

We have already contributed a lot and will continue to do so, since we understand the modern technology better than the old parties and realize that the Internet is important infrastructure, and not just a toy that you can allow companies and governments to do whatever they like with.

Although I cannot promise that we will be able to create a majority in the Parliament for free file sharing in the next term, I see it as a distinct possibility. We have already gotten the Green group to formally adopt the Pirate Party‘s program for free file sharing, and the Left group also tends to vote with us in practice. The big Social Democrat group has not come aboard yet, but it is thinking very hard about the subject. I am hoping that with Pirates in the Parliament to nudge the Social Democrats along, it is possible that they will officially come out in favour of free file sharing in the next parliamentary term. If that happens, we will be able to create a majority together with progressive members of the Conservative and Liberal groups.

KOMPASS: Will you seek re-election in 2014?

Yes. Being a Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party is an incredibly interesting and rewarding job. And it becomes even more fun since we can see clearly that we are making a difference, and that our ideas are slowly getting more and more accepted by politicians of other parties.

KOMPASS: Amelia, Christian, thank you for the interview.


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