US Pirate Party Reboots, Stressing Transparency, Privacy and Ballot Access Reform

The United States Pirate Party has completely revamped its website, which is perhaps the most outward sign of its renewed organizational push to grow its membership and cultivate state chapters across the country. The brand new forum page reveals initial activity in nine different states in addition to groups from Washington, Oregon, and New York –, but the Oklahoma chapter appears to be the furthest along in its efforts. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma has already filed necessary paperwork for recognition as an official political party and begun gathering the requisite number of signatures (over 73,000!) while simultaneously lobbying state lawmakers to reduce this burdensome petitioning requirement. In addition, the Pirates have endorsed at least one candidate for public office, namely, Stephen Collings, who is running for Congress as in independent in Tennessee's 5th Congressional District.

At Wikinews, Peter Coti has just published an interview with the Pirate Party's new administrator, Brittany Phelps. Phelps emphasizes three points of concern for the organization: transparency, privacy and ballot access reform:
Firstly, transparency is required from our government in all but the most dire situations. President Obama seemed, at first, to be promising in this regard, but again and again since he took office, he has proven that hope to be ill-placed. ACTA is hidden from FOIA requests, more light is not shed about torture techniques, and numerous bills, most memorably the recent health care reform, are not brought to light for the promised number of days--how is this transparency?

My second qualm, privacy, is boiled down very simply--as technology grows, so does the ability to invade the privacy of citizens for the sake of a potential safeguard. This route is far from effective in its proposed function. We should take the time to find more effective ways to reduce crime without invading the privacy of law-abiding citizens. Not doing so is to treat each and every American as a criminal without a trial.

And, thirdly, ballot access. While not necessarily a plank of our platform, it is a challenge that the USPP will have to face early on. There is a long standing idea that the United States has two political parties, and that's it, end of story. I can't help but wonder of these people--do you think that the country was founded between these two parties alone? We are a nation of many people, with many ideas and many opinions. To try and simply this to a black and white dichotomy does a disservice to the nation and its people. There are shades of gray.

The Pirate Party is also active in Canada, and obtained official party status last month, allowing it to field candidates in the next general election. Pirate Party Radio is the official radio show of the US and Canadian Pirate Parties, which is broadcast weekly and features discussion of "privacy, surveillence, anonymity, net neutrality, copyright reform, free culture, free speech, patent reform, open government and Pirate Party news from around the world." Thanks to Glenn Kerbein, who is active in the party, for his input via email.

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