What the Pirate Party demands isn’t rocket science. We are demanding an end to the Wild West treatment of the Internet. We are demanding that the same laws that have applied offline for centuries also apply online.
What’s boggling the mind is how that can be so hard to achieve politically.
The laws regulating what happens when I write a letter and post in the mail have been around for centuries, literally. We demand that the same laws apply to the modern equivalent.
When I write that letter, I and I alone choose whether I identify myself as sender in the letter, on the outside on the envelope, both, or neither. It is my prerogative alone and nobody may track the letter backwards unless I choose to make it possible. We demand that the same rules apply online as offline.
When I put that letter in the mailbox, no European government has the right to demand that I identify myself and note that I am putting a letter in the mail. We demand that the same rules apply online as offline.
In the route through the postal service, regardless of whether I have chosen to identify myself on the envelope or not, nobody has the right to start tracking who is talking to whom. Not because of physical constraints, in the case where I identify myself, but because of privacy laws. We demand that the same rules apply online as offline.
Nobody but the addressed recipient has the right to open and examine the contents, if I am not previously under documented and specific suspicion of a serious crime (at which point only law enforcement may intercept it). We demand that the same rules apply online as offline.
What does this mean?
It means a firm rejection of traffic data retention and similar wanton surveillance without documented and concrete suspicion of a crime.
It means a firm rejection of the notion that identity must be surrendered in order to gain freedom of speech. First, freedom of speech is unconditional and you can’t condition it to giving up the speaker’s identity, just as you can’t condition it to giving up some amount of money. It is unconditional. Second, the freedom of the press depends on the ability to protect identities of sources, and governmental authorities can’t and shouldn’t be trusted with eavesdropping on this. Third, in order to have meaningful and society-advancing debates of ideas, they must be detached from the sender’s identity, in particular on stigmatized subjects.
It means an acceptance that sealed letters can be used to send copyrighted works, such as books, poems and drawings, and always have. This right takes clear and strong precedence over the copyright monopoly, as it always has.
It means an acceptance and embrace of our documented fundamental rights and that they apply to all parts of society, in particular the online part.
Come on, politicians. These laws are there already and have been for generations.