THE PIRATE PARTY UK (PPUK)
Spokesman: Party head Andrew Robinson
What would your party do to promote and strengthen the UK technology industry?
The British technology industry is amongst the best in the world, and the Pirate Party UK wants to further strengthen it. We believe the opportunities provided by a relaxation of overzealous copyright and patent laws will encourage greater competition and reduce costs, providing a host of new opportunities for business and industry.
We pledge to ban software patents, which will ensure that the pace of change in software is kept appropriately high. Raising the level of innovation required before hardware patents are awarded will continue to reward truly innovative work while reducing the problem of overly-broad patents being used to discourage competition. Our plan to require a working model before a patent is granted will remove the danger of so-called submarine patents.
What is your long-term strategy for the digital economy?
Broadband has quickly become an essential part of modern life in Britain and a service that no individual should ever be deprived of. We believe that broadband access in the UK should be covered by a universal service obligation similar to that already imposed on telephone companies that provide analogue lines. We plan to encourage competition between ISPs and also enforce honesty in connection speeds. We plan to give customers the right to pay for the speed they actually receive, rather than the unobtainable theoretical maximum usually advertised by ISPs. This would encourage ISPs to improve actual performance rather than just the headline speed.
We pledge to ban software patents, which will ensure that the pace of change in software is kept appropriately high.
The Pirate Party UK strongly believes that net neutrality is vital to ensure the freedom and development of the internet. Only by enforcing a system of net neutrality can we really ensure that customers have an acceptable level of service and that businesses can operate freely. Enforced net neutrality also ensures that future fledgling internet-based businesses can compete on a level playing field with the incumbents and get off the ground without undue hindrance. This will ensure the long-term future of competition in this sector.
We believe that legislation such as the Digital Economy Bill will do nothing but harm the UK's digital economy and could in fact lead to an increase in piracy. The Digital Economy Bill will be the first step towards massive consumer and voter disenfranchisement as voters become aware that the bill was drafted for — and by — faltering sectors of the content distribution industry.
The Party is currently discussing methods to better the teaching of ICT in schools, including an increased focus on practical internet safety, as well as encouraging the teaching of general purpose computing skills rather than how to operate particular software packages. Such program-specific teaching leads to problems — for example, if that version of a particular software product is not used, or no longer available. An English class doesn't require that only a single brand of pen is used to write with, so why should it be seen as acceptable in ICT lessons?
What role should technology play in government transparency and interaction with the public?
The internet allows us to share information and data on an unprecedented level. Much like Tim Berners-Lee, we believe that all government data that could be made public, should be. This would achieve greater accountability as well as affording the opportunity for businesses and individuals alike to take the data and apply it in brilliantly novel ways. Data.gov.uk is a great first step, and we'd like to see that project extended.
We also applaud private initiatives such as WriteToThem.com, TheyWorkForYou.com, WhatDoTheyKnow.com and Wikileaks.org, and we plan to introduce new rights to protect whistleblowers to encourage the criticism of those in power. At the same time...