Icelandic Authorities Blocking PiratePad as “Hate-Speech”
The Icelandic Pirate Party has confirmed their suspicions that the Reykjavik City authorities are blocking access to one of the party’s collaboration platforms, namely PiratePad. Different versions of PiratePad are being used by several other Pirate Parties around the world. The city of Reykjavik uses content filtering software managed by the software giant Microsoft who have labelled PiratePad under the categories “hate-speech” and “computer crimes”. Libraries and schools are among the current institutions blocking access to PiratePad in Iceland. PPIS member Bjartur Thorlacius said:
“This is just what we have noticed since before the recent holidays. It’s almost guaranteed that other municipalities, organizations and companies that rely on Microsoft have blocked access to our information systems, knowingly or not.”
“This is one of the many reasons why we don’t want to see internet censorship in general or network surveillance. Automatic censorship systems do not respect human values like freedom of speech. We are talking about a huge corporation using its momentum to block access to a political movement that it thinks threatens its status.“
Jón Gnarr’s Best Party, who forms the majority in the Reykjavik City Hall together with the Social Alliance, has applied for observer membership in Pirate Parties International during 2012. Therefore it is surprising to find the city authorities are blocking access to a system used by Pirate Parties around the globe.
“One of the basic principles of the Pirate Party is that censorship should not happen in Iceland, no matter the cause. “PPIS Executive Commission member Enar Valur Ingimundarson told us, “We can’t be more clear on this issue: Censorship is bad and we are against it. Let the data flow freely.”
If you are not familiar with the PiratePad it is an online collaboration tool based on Etherpad. It allows users to write on the same document in real time with individual contributors being identified by separate colours. A text chat facility gives further possibility to interact and can be used together with Mumble or other voice chat applications.
Concerning automatic censorship of legal pages Pirate Party members (and others) can help by regularly checking access from public institutions to their local Pirate Party web sites, wikis and pads. If any problems are found they should be reported to their Party’s leadership and IT administrators. For example libraries in the USA, Australia and Denmark use content filters who might sometimes censor content wrongfully. You can also let concerned institutions know as they might not themselves be aware of the politically motivated blocking taking place in their name. Another obvious thing to do is to express your displeasure to the company using its content control software for political purposes.