Parliamentary Elections Program 2010
We promote the emerging information society with all its diversity and openness. We will change legislation so that it would not hinder the development of individuals and society. The pirate party protects citizens, their rights and their privacy. We require a transparent government spending which enables an easy public scrutiny. We aim to gradually repeal the prohibition of cultural works sharing and to curtail the disadvantageous patent policy.
- Citizen's rights and personal freedoms
We must reduce excessive surveillance of citizens. The government requires monitoring and storing information on all intercepted communications and on the position of all mobile phones. Citizens are thus treated as suspects and the data processing of innocent people puts an unnecessary strain on the police. Democracy cannot function without respecting people and their rights and privacy, both on the Internet and in the streets. Internet is our sea and we shall prevent it from being censored. (See below for details)
- Transparent government
Public spending inefficiency and non-transparency – including corruption – leads to a 20–25 % loss in public budgets (i.e. hundreds of billions CZK). We do not want to address the mere symptoms of corruption, but to tackle it at its roots. The remedy is public control over the finances that the authorities have at their disposal. We offer a number of ways to minimize the room for wasting and corruption. Also we want to promote a more helpful government attitude to citizens and increase the efficiency of civil service institutions by connecting them digitally together. (See below for details)
- Politicians subjected to citizens' control
Politicians have repeatedly proven that they must be scrutinized. We refuse that they should continue to increase our public debt when the economy grows. We want to prevent the abuse of political power by dividing it among several elected institutions that will check on each other. Direct democracy will empower citizens to exert influence over the decision-making of their elected representatives and, in case of failure, to recall the politicians whom they directly elected. (See below for details)
- No monopolies — creating at ease
We do not want patents and copyright to impede the development and access to cultural wealth, but to advance it. We need a balance between the public interest on availability and the creator's right to be acknowledged and remunerated. The current system of prohibition and punishment is outdated, ineffective and does not support any new creations. Copyright and patent law has to be radically amended or abolished altogether. We advocate to amend it so that the contingent protection will establish evidence of supporting new creations. (See below for details)
Our program is partly copied from the Swedish Pirate Party.1) Copying does not deprive anybody of anything, but allows everybody to benefit from it. We are happy to see other political parties copy our program. In line with the program, we have a transparent party account, we spread information under free licenses, our regulations are open and interlinked and we use direct democracy in reality, not just as a media trick. Our hope is that the other parties copy this as well.
Our goal is to use a tie breaker position in parliament as leverage, and support an administration that drives the issues in our platform in a satisfactory manner. When they do, we will support that administration on issues that do not contradict the core goals of our policy.2)
To unite as a strong movement, we have decided as a party to focus solely on the principles declared herein and their consequences.
We stand united around our protection of the right to privacy, our will to reform copyrights, limit the patents and introduce a transparent government under public scrutiny.
1. Citizen's Rights and Freedoms
Right to privacy is one of the fundamental rights. It is guaranteed by the constitution3) and other rights spring from it — the right to freedom of expression, right to seek and disseminate information, and right to personal development.
All attempts by the state to curtail these rights must be questioned and met with powerful opposition. Pretexts, such es extremism and terrorism, are unacceptable. Fear enslaves and deprives people of freedom, happiness and self-esteem, it contributes to suspiciousness only. Only the free and self-confident people can guarantee democracy.
The government must respect the constitution not just in saying, but in practice. Respect for the citizens and their privacy shall mean that the telecommunications secret is not negotiable, the operators cannot be held responsible for the transmitted data, and people must be given a chance to defend these rights in a fair trial. We will make sure that the practice of disconnecting from the Internet without a trial will not spread to the Czech Republic. The Pirate Party shall and will act to expose and bring down an administration that does not respect constitutional rights and human dignity.
Privacy and Freedom of Expression
Government may intervene in someone's privacy only in cases where the law provides for it and if it has a reasonable suspicion of committing an offense. Ungrounded preventive police checks must stop. All powers, systems and methods that the state can use against its citizens must be under constant evaluation and scrutiny by elected officials. These methods may not abuse fear, uncertainty, manipulation or lack of legal knowledge. When the government uses surveillance powers against regular citizens who are not suspected of any crime, it is a fundamentally unacceptable and clear violation of the citizen's right to privacy. Not the citizens but the government should be under strict supervision.
Nobody may be prosecuted for the mere expression of opinion. We strongly oppose the policy of the politicians who categorized libel as a crime; it can be addressed in the same way as other civil disputes. We will push through an amendment of the single-purpose „muzzle-law”4) that imposes significant restrictions on public scrutiny over politicians. Protecting the privacy of those who voluntarily joined the public scene may not obstruct the political debate.
Freedom of opinion also includes right to choose freely the method of medical treatment. The current legislation allows for growing 5 Cannabis plants,5) it is, however, allowed to possess only 15 g of the dry matter of Cannabis.6) In the Czech Republic, there is a relatively large group of patients who are substantially helped by Cannabis extracts in treating their ailments. So a sick man grows 5 plants legally and then immediately becomes a criminal because the yield is definitely more than 15 g of dry matter. We want to set this right and allow both growing and possession of Cannabis for medical purposes.
End of Surveillance
Together with other pirate parties we will strive to abolish the EU data retention directive.7) General retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication service and surveillance of Internet user activities is a serious violation of telecommunication secret and has to stop. An official body may collect about its citizens only such data that are directly linked to the function of a democratic state.
If a citizen is under CCTV surveillance system in the public, a sign must warn him. We oppose indiscriminate surveillance of people in public space.8)
After a certain period of time, everybody has to be informed that they had been under surveillance or that a government body accessed their personal data. Intelligence and security services have to heed the privacy protection principles. Surveillance via access chips, mobile phones, cameras, road-toll, ATMs and other means is to be allowed only as a result of reasonable suspicion of committing offense, for a limited period of time, and by the court only. In all other cases, the government is to consider its citizens innocent and leave them alone.
File sharing is when two private individuals send ones and zeros to each other. The only way to even try to limit file sharing, is to introduce complete surveillance of everybody’s private communication. There is no way to separate private messages from copyrighted material without opening the message and checking the contents. Out goes the telecommunication secret, and that is unacceptable. The right to privacy and free expression is more important than the right of big media companies to earn money in the same way as in the past, especially as the latter right does not exist at all!
My Computer Is My Fort
The current Internet censorship is unacceptable and must end: The Internet must not be commanded by secret lists that would give providers tools for evaluating the contents shared between computers. Net neutrality as a condition for freedom of speech has to prevail. Possession of information as such cannot be a crime. We refuse the proposal that the providers of communication networks or those who allow for the public discussion on the Internet should be liable for the transmitted message. Web-hosting is not to be held responsible for contents attributed to specific authors.
Government interventions in the field of information technology have often been incompetent. Our society does not need Internet regulation by the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, not even the overly expensive projects such as Data Boxes or the Red Button. We want to save money on such projects and invest it in better education, privacy protection and further development of information society.
2. Transparent Government
We want to make public finances transparent. We advocate a transparent system of government accounts and the treasury, i.e. transparent accounting of public service including individual authorities of the territorial self-government. We hold the belief that openness is the best remedy to omnipresent corruption and wastefulness. Our party sets an example; as the first political party in the Czech Republic we had a transparent bank account of our own.
Despite the legislation on free access to information,9) it requires a lot of citizen's time and effort to receive the inquired information. Our aim is the obligatory and automatic Internet publication of all documents, contracts and other types of information that do not need to be held secret10) and that do not concern private matters.
These transparency rules are to be applied to state-run businesses, as well as to entities in which the public holds a majority share (e.g. the Dopravní podnik města Brna, Brno City Transportation Company) and to all other entities that use public resources (schools, health insurance companies).
The official site for public contracts has to publish all contracts, even the less extensive and cheaper ones. The selection procedure should exclude the companies whose majority owner or a group of owners is unknown.
The selection procedure for the state administration shall exclude for 5 years the companies that have had problems with observing guarantees or overcharged their work more than by 20 % as compared to the price offered, after taking into account the inflation.11)
Contracts are to be commissioned in a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, the commissioning authority presents a grounded contract proposal, an objection to which can be raised by anyone within a set deadline.12) In the second stage, during a meeting open to the public, a selection committee decides who gets the contract. A written protocol containing information on how the committee members voted has to become a standard. If the court decides that the contract was not awarded in lines with the contract proposal, the officials responsible will be punished as stipulated by the Public Service Act.
Despite the fact that authorities all across the country perform nearly identical tasks, no process analysis has been applied. Such analysis would define a complete list of services for a citizen at every office and would suggest information processes to support these services. In public service, many computers only substitute typewriters and their crucial advantage – computer-aided document and information sharing – is not employed.
Public service should require specific information from citizens only one and then distribute it as necessary. The citizen should not be the officials' postman. All possible forms and documents shall be available in an interactive electronic form and the maximum possible amount of information is to be filled in electronically. The more options an e-government will provide, the less necessary will be the personal presence at public institutions. All information and service orders related to government and local authorities as well as electronic mail registry will be found on a single web portal.
Government Service to Citizens – Efficient and Fast
We do not see any reason, why (similarly to a bank) it should not be possible to settle everything with a single civil servant instead of visiting several departments. That is why we strongly support the CzechPoint system and want it to replace time-consuming department-circles, with the exception of very specific problems. CzechPoints are to become the main means of communication between clients and authorities, irrespective of whether this is a government ministry or a local authority.
Regular contact with the authorities13) will be independent of the domicile or registered office of businesses. If a citizen visits a small municipal authority, he should be able to perform the same tasks as in a big city. Public bodies should, whenever possible, act pro-actively – find solutions to both potential and real problems without citizen's own activity (e.g. issue a document automatically).
Another crucial thing to be translated into practice is the Public Service Act whose effective date has been now postponed for 10 years since its passing. Without Public Service Act, officials are just puppets in politicians' hands. As soon as personal accountability system is adopted in public service (just like in the private sector), we believe that together with transparent spending both corruption and wastefulness will be minimized.
The above-mentioned improvements will help transform the citizen-government relationship into a company-owner relationship, and thus save the time of both citizens and the officials – and subsequently lower the costs of public service as such.
3. Politicians subjected to citizens' control
Laws are enacted to make power abuse harder, not easier. Abuse can be prevented by an effective mutual institutional control and by citizens' direct involvement in government.
Separation of Powers
Under current system, only Parliament is elected on the national level. Because the Parliament appoints the government and the President, who then appoints the judges, we can hardly speak about the mutual control of the parliament, government and judiciary. Czech Constitution has to introduce a system of checks and balances, so that no organ can usurp all power. The system of mutual control of powers cannot conceive a different than direct election.
It follows from the separation of powers that the position in the executive is incompatible with a membership in the Chamber of Deputies. The vacant seat will go to a substitute determined by the candidate list. The President will be elected directly and will then appoint the government with the approval of Parliament. Whereas the government is here to act efficiently and quickly, the Parliament provides room for political discussion and a broad representation of political parties. The existing 5 % election threshold for a party to enter the Chamber of Deputies does not correspond to the proportional representation prescribed by the Constitution.14) We want to abolish the treshold.
The separation of powers has to be applied also on the level of regions and communities, the mayor has to be separated from the local council. The powers of the representatives of the territorial self-government (regional and community mayor) have to be redefined to enable the direct election.
Direct democracy must not degenerate into politicians shifting the responsibility to citizens. Direct democracy must enable the citizens to make informed decisions15), which will increase their control over politicians. We suggest
- direct election and recall of politicians and senior officials,
- referenda or public voting of affected citizens about various proposals,
- initiative as an opportunity for citizens to influence politics without the political parties and as a safety check on unreasonable changes of the Constitution.
We advocate direct elections of senior state officials and managers (President, mayors, directors of Czech Television, Czech Radio, Supreme Audit Office, Office for the Protection of Competition, and the Public Prosecutor etc.). All candidates will have to prove their expertise as stipulated by law.
The citizens have the right to control their elected representatives and political parties. If the directly elected representatives fail, there must be a way for citizens to remove them from the office. With indirectly elected representatives,16) the next candidate on the original party candidate list will replace the removed one.
We want to introduce binding referendum at the level of nation, region, and community. The initiative will enable the citizens to protect the interests which political parties do not care for. Following a petition, the Parliament or the local council will have to address the proposal. If the requirements are not met within a year, a referendum will take place.
Balanced State Budget
The Czech Constitution should be amended with an article prescribing that the state budget has to be in surplus or balanced during the economic growth. The budget with a reasonable deficit may be enacted only during economic downturn or exceptional situations.
We do not have the right to unwarranted indebtedness of the future generations!
4. No monopolies — creating at ease
We want to prevent economic, artistic and social harm caused by distributional methods based on monopoly and show that from the distribution based on freedom will benefit both the creators and the general public.
As our information society is characterized by diversity, we have to look thoroughly for the areas where it is replaced by the uniformity of monopolies. Our political goal is the gradual abolition of monopolies and opening up of markets.
Laws on copyright have to support new creations.19) We want to reestablish the balance between the creator and the public on one hand and the distributor on the other. The laws must change to regulate only the commercial use20) of copyrighted products.
Sharing cultural works or otherwise spreading and using it for non-commercial purposes can never be illegal, as such fair use benefits the whole society.
We suggest that the period of copyright reflects the business models return. This means a copyright duration of 5 to 10 years since making public.21)
The support for new creations requires that derived works may be created right after the making public.22)
We do not want to change the author's right to decide over the making public of the work23) and the right that nobody else may claim the authorship.
In line with the existing Copyright Act, a remuneration is paid for all CDs, DVDs, Blurays, harddrives and copy machines to the collecting societies of authors, publishers and producers. Private companies are not meant to collect taxes, not to speak about the hush money for the presumed use of copyrighted works. The hush money became a huge source of finances for popmusic and provided it with means for PR. But it also gave the popmusic an unfair competitive edge when compared to other genres, such as classical or alternative music. The government did not stand the lobby pressure and violated the natural competition of music genres. We will push for abolition of these fees.
We shall prevent software and data format patents as they hinder technological development, restrict normal users and threaten the very existence of medium sized companies in IT. Pharmaceutical patents contribute to high prices of medicine and limit their accessibility. We reject the patents on software, living organisms, genes or business methods.
We believe patents have become obsolete and that they actively stifle innovation and the creation of new knowledge. Besides, just by looking at all business areas that is not patentable it is clear that patents simply are not needed - the market forces derived from being first-to-market is quite sufficient for fostering innovation. Inventors should compete fairly with natural advantages like innovative designs, customer benefits, pricing and quality, instead of with a state-awarded monopoly on knowledge. Not having to pay small armies of patent lawyers will free resources that can be used for creating real innovations and improve products at a faster rate, benefiting us all in the end.
Instead of restricting it, the government should support the right to access information wealth of culture and science, to search for information and share it. We suggest tangible measures in favor of Open Access.
Works paid from public budget have to be provided under a free license, including Czech technical norms24), grant projects and archives tools25). We will strive for publishing the Collection of laws, all the regulations and the selected judicature in an interconnected electronic system accessible by all citizens for free.26) This system will contain both the effective version as the archives. The state must not require that you obey something you cannot access.
It is a unacceptable that communication with the authorities requires software of a specific company. We shall support free formats and free software in the public sector including schools. Technologies that restrict the consumer’s freedom to use the provided information, so-called DRM technologies, should be prohibited or at least each product with DRM should display a clear warning to prevent the damage to the consumer. The agreements concluded to obstruct the just sharing of information will be deemed null and void.
We want gradual changes, to let the current patents and copyright expire in the terms prescribed in the time of creation, but reduce the new ones. The laws will not be retroactive.