2012 has already been a momentous year for our politics. It began with massive protest about the US SOPA bill. This was a huge threat to civil liberties, freedom of speech and the very nature of the net itself. We saw the most visible global mobilization in defense of Internet freedom ever- millions stood up and spoke out. The site black out captured imaginations, with Wikipedia being just one of the most high profile of participants. Pirate Party UK participated along with our friends in the movement across the globe. As it happened, SOPA fell. This is a major victory, and I am proud that we all played our part. The combination of protest and political pressure clearly works. It is no longer a given that industry bodies will have everything their own way.
However, this is just the start and we can’t be complacent. As if on cue, the heavy handed crackdown on Megaupload showed that all too many think copyright trumps any other kinds of rights. Whatever the reasons for the timing, the arrests appeared to be a warning shot across the bows of a growing popular grassroots movement. Inevitably, the case brought up the “piracy” is harming the creative industries debate again. I went head to head with music industry boss Frances Moore of IFPI on the subject:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/20/was-megaupload-bad-for-the-creative-industries
The success of the SOPA action left people around the world ready and indeed eager to deal with other threats to digital rights. The new focus has become the ACTA treaty- http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2012/jan/27/acta-latest-threat-internet-freedom-just-signed-eu/
This is yet another assault on civil liberties and hugely objectionable because of the secret way it has been negotiated. It is not a new threat, and we have been the party that has most consistent in pointing out its dangers over the months.
Huge protests in Poland have put ACTA in the centre of the political agenda. We know from SOPA that if enough people speak out we can change policy. Despite the EU signatures it is not too late to stop ACTA. We can win this, and we must.
A few things you can do to help :
I hope to see you at the London protest against ACTA on Saturday February 11th. Starting off 12 PM Trafalgar Square.http://www.facebook.com/events/170835693019760/
Or that you join PP-Scotland candidates and activists in Glasgow on Saturday February 11th George Square 1.30 PM.http://www.facebook.com/events/375858179095979/
Join the million and a half others and sign the petition against ACTA:http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_acta/
Here are some more actions that you can carry out:http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/blog/2012/jan/28/acting-acta-what-we-can-do/
One protest in itself might not bring down a government or change a law by itself. But each action is part of a greater whole. 2012 has already shown how powerful collective action can be. I look forward to being part of real change this year- and I hope you do too.
Some more stories from 2012
Me in conversation with copyright lawyer and, er, namesake Laurence Kaye in Wired :http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-01/03/kaye-versus-kaye?page=all
On hacktivism and the intelligence community in the Guardian:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/09/anonymous-hacktivist-expose-intelligence-gap
On ACTA for Russia Today:http://rt.com/news/acta-poland-prosecution-communication-809/
The Richard O'Dwyer extradition case :http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2137512/uk-pirate-party-slams-tv-shack-creators-extradition-ruling