The second round of the RiotACT’s LEGO Challenge took place on Tuesday night, with the Pirate Party ACT’s Mark Gibbons testing his LEGO mettle.

Mark was seconded by Kate Valentine; also in attendance were Stuart Biggs (PPAU-ACT’s President), Glen Takkenberg (PPAU-ACT Secretary) and a smattering of other supporters and ‘observers’ (Liberal’s Matt Watts and Labor’s Elias Hallaj).

Like the first installment of the LEGO Challenge it was fun evening. Inner-north bar and bistro, The Duxton (née All Bar Nun), was the location and they had two-for-one pizzas on offer, which provided ample fuel for participants and spectators. The RiotACT‘s editor, John Griffiths, was there to capture the Mark’s vision of Canberra as it unfolded.

Mark’s vision of Canberra was largely organised around bolstering the public transport system to encourage the cultural life. This offline culture has an online dimension too. Here Mark focused on IT infrastructure and issues relating to privacy and the sharing of culture.

Check out the RiotACT’s coverage of the Pirate Party’s LEGO Challenge

I sat down with the PPAU-ACT’s President, Stuart Biggs, to discuss the Pirate Party, its role in ACT politics and what is in store as this relatively new political force begins to develop. I first wanted to find out what happened with the PPAU-ACT missing out on official ‘party’ status for this election.

Listen to a clip of Stuart describing what happened

Over about an hour and half of conversation (plus a beer and half a pizza) Stuart provided some insight into the development of the Pirate Party ACT. The three main issues around which the ACTPP is assembling its political platform are:

  1. Personal privacy. Stuart indicated that there has not been enough emphasis on analysing policies regarding data retention by government and commercial interests. At stake is how long and how much citizen and consumer data is retained.
  2. Government transparency. The mirror of the personal data privacy is the move towards ‘open’ anonymised data on services, operations and other facets of government and, to a much lesser extent, corporations.
  3. The importance of sharing within culture. Stuart strongly argued that sharing is a natural part of the development of human society, therefore we should be working towards developing ways that people can share culture without it becoming illicit.

I pushed Stuart on this a little, wanting to get a sense of how the PPAU-ACT would develop and whether there was a danger of it being perceived as a ‘one issue’ party. He first pointed out the grassroots character of the PPAU-ACT (and Pirate Party more generally), emerging from a social movement, and suggested that the Green movement and correlative representative political party is inspirational for them when thinking about how the PPAU-ACT would develop over time.

In terms of relevance to the ACT community, Stuart suggested that issues around government transparency were of paramount importance. He emphasised that the technology existed that would enable the publication of anonymised data on government services. We discussed the recent ACT hospitals issues and I raised the example of the public transport MyWay ticketing system that could potentially provide a rich souce of data. Stuart also added:

In light of the recent cybercrime legislation amendment bill passed by the senate point 1. [about personal privacy above] is somewhat moot, as it looks like we are headed for the surveillance state predicted by dystopian science fiction.

The worrying part is that I am given to understand it also allows foreign countries access to that data in pursuit of criminals, as long as the foreign crime has a sentence of 3 years  or fine of around $100,000 or more, but with no corresponding  Australian crime required

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey