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From: Mikulàš Peksa – Chairperson European Pirate Party
Date: Dom 27/09/2020 13:06
I am writing on behalf of the Board of European Pirate Party. During last months, we recieved multiple complaints from people claiming aleigance to Italian Pirate Party. The subject of criticism was mainly access to the new voting system (“congresso”) with respect to verification of users and their privacy (e.g. personal data protection). The troubles were supposed to exclude some part of the voters from voting. We understand very well that such an administrative change is very challengeing and could have various, unintended side-effects. Still, as privacy and democracy are core values of Pirate movement, we were concerned about possible discomfort caused to our members. Would you, please, provide us with some brief description of the ongoing administrative changes within the Party?
We understand that disagreements about various topics are normal part of political life, including internal discussions within Pirate parties across the globe. In order to mediate disagreements within the Assocation and resolve the disputed issues, European Pirate Party established Code of Concuct Council (CoCC). Should you be interested in its services, the CoCC would gladly provide any assistence needed.
European Pirate Party
From: Emmanuele Somma – President of Congress Pirate Party in Italy
Date: Lun 28/09/2020 13:08
Antonio Gramsci once said “Disease is born when the old dies and the new cannot be born”.
Please forgive me if I should be long and pedantic in this report. I’m sorry I didn’t have time for a more thorough review but I felt that a prompt, clear, comprehensive and extensive reply was needed in less than 24 hours. Also to avoid the work of those who use the backstage to distribute falsehoods. We have to better know each other and I’ll do my best to fulfill that need, I promise. For now I think that an open and clear answer is the best thing to settle your concerns.
Receiving a letter from the Chairperson of the European Party, without prior information from our international delegates, it’s not a good signal at all.
To answer, I really need it to sew up the threads of a long history, and I should begin from the very beginning.
Long ago, following the German pirate party, the Pirate Party in Italy chose to use software (Liquid Feedback, henceforth LQFB) to manage its internal democratic life.
Like others, Italians pirates claimed to give an ‘operating system’ to the internal democracy (a claim subsequently also adopted, with much more success, by Italian party M5S, now in the government, and have lots of problem with the Privacy Authority, fines and injuntive orders).
Meanwhile, as far as I know, most of the other pirates withdrew the use of Liquid Feedback. The Italians didn’t. They instead tested complicated configurations to overcome the same problems others had, and without real success. The Party didn’t gain political relevance, nor attracted new members.
Let’s say the choice of Liquid Feedback hasn’t been astonishingly successful. Well, it was no success at all.
In 2013, Pirate Party in Italy grossed some hundreds of members and it virtually dissolved in the years 2014-2018, after many internal wars and controversy over LQFB, with the accusation of fake profiles, use of sock-puppets and expulsions (on somewhat ideological issues). At that time, I left the Party to focus on real life activities in real life and not on pathetic internal religious wars.
It seems that the Pirate Party in Italy did not treasure at all what other Pirate parties discovered, what the authors of LQFB themselves said on the use of this software and the general criticism stated about that kind of gamification of democracy. The Party hence collapsed and remained stuck into this.
In 2018 were reported only twelve membership fee in the treasury. (at the whopping figure of 10€ at member, two at 5€).
In 2019, somewhat bypassing Liquid Feedback and the Permanent Assembly rules through extended use of delegation mechanism, the few remaining pirates managed to stage the electoral presence in European competitions. That was good.
Half of the candidates (the most voted in person) were not even Pirate Party members (even they all were pirates without any doubt). They were well-known personalities of the civil society with a very relevant curriculum in the digital scene and not—all they were brought in the candidates’ list by my commitment and dedication. Also, to be honest, only these people campaigned on national TV and other media as most senior members of Pirate Party, even everytime invited, were… ehm… too shy to go. The collection of youtube videos on the elections speaks loud and clear. You can’t turn people unable to speak in public into front-men overnight.
The Party became visible at the national level and got more than 60,000 votes. It’s a mere 0.26%. Admittedly in Italy, there was never before such a vast audience committed to digital policy, privacy issues, free sharing of knowledge and other common keywords used by European pirates in the electoral campaign. Indeed it was an excellent base to build a proper Party standing, linked to European pirates core fights (and not the extreme left jabbering that dissolved the Party in 2013).
We began to make public “in real life” assemblies, whereas old pirates didn’t never at all. These appointments then stabilized online during the lockdown and, as you know, since last March have become weekly.
With elections and subsequent actions, the Party quadrupled the members (from twelve to around fifty). The registration fee was the negligible amount of only 10€ a year (or even just 5€ — “as per own unquestionable judgment”, as said a rule of the old Statute).
However, even this competitive fee didn’t bring in vast masses. And we ended up to spend all our little money in dozen of virtual machines for no use in politics outreach.
Liquid feedback as a video-game
Unfortunately, the small growth of members in LQFB has once again brought up the dynamics that led the Party to dissolve. In particular, rather than focusing on authentic external political activity, a few members coming from earlier years of the Party used once again Liquid Feedback to stage skirmishes, diatribes or childish criticism of a purely ideological nature, without any real political content, only for the sake of domination or personal supremacy, mostly based on rule interpretation issues (most of all also based on misinterpretations of rules).
Liquid Feedback had thus once again become a battleground, rather than a meeting place. The Party was becoming, as it had been, a sort of an armchair video game without any political outreach.
Most of those interested in the Pirate Party left for this skirmishing environment. Other never found their way into the Party due to the arcane membership procedures (I’ll talk later).
Fortunately, we have a core group of people interested in the Pirate Party family’s proposals and not only in struggling their power in the Assembly.
Similarly inefficient in 2019 was the operations of the Arbitration Board, one of the management boards in the Party, stuck in ideological diatribes over the continuous request to hit “political” opponents.
Although there were few problematic people, the rules of the system were such that they could block all activity.
With the support of the majority in LQFB and complete respect of the rules, newly registered members with greater political competence along with some more senior party members, have put in place four countermeasures to overcome the problems:
Elect in the Arbitration Board people with at least knowledge of the law, (lawyer o university professor);
Increase of the quorum needed to bring the proposals into a discussion and to vote. That has prevented the guerrilla activity in LQFB as an end;
Increase the membership fee (from the mere 0,40 €/month to 5€/month);
Promotion of a new statute, more effective and less complicated than the previous one, with a transparent management scheme and fewer appointed positions.
The previous Statute had, among other ineffective things, a disproportionate amount of unuseful “elected members” in intermediate bodies. They had almost no real power other than fighting one each other, and you could count 23 roles even when the Party had no more than twelve members, so the same person ended up with up to five simultaneous positions, from the treasury to technical committee, member admission, forum admin, arbitration and some other. An alpha male, no doubt.
Hence, in 2019, there were endless struggles for proposals of no confidence over the elected positions and subsequent re-elections battles. A real nightmare!
Reducing the game-like attitude of Liquid Feedback, having a competent Arbitration Committee not involved in ideological diatribes, and with the need of a no more symbolic fee amount for the membership, less politically motivated people autonomously left the Party, not without harsh polemics.
Neither they tried to make alternative political proposals; neither they wanted to propose themselves as new leadership, this small minority only wished to have online gaming over Liquid Feedback. They raged against the «new» Party, venting their anger on Facebook for every little nonsense.
In the end, some of them didn’t pay the 2020 membership fee and went out.
The fee and the new positions
Although the minimum membership fee in 2020 had increased six times (from 10€ to 60€, or even twelve times considering the “own unquestionable judgment” rule) the number of active members in the 2020 Party Assembly (later renamed Congress) matched and exceeded the 2019s’. That gave the Party more resources, both human and material. Some new competent pirates came in.
The Party filled up all roles, and for the first time since a long time, having all genders in boards or important roles.
President, Board of Coordinators, Garante were all elected with qualified majorities (⅔ of voters).
Others, i.e. the Treasurer and Bureaucrat, didn’t want to resign at new bylaw passing, wanted to stay to the end of the mandate. This was a bad move.
Back in 2018, only a few members elected Bureaucrat and Treasurer (he recently admitted he had only six votes to pass the election). No strange that he had little support from new members in the Assembly when he chose to change its mind and ceased to support the need for transparency or when proposed a weak budget later on. He then resigned, in a raging move.
The need for transparency and the identification of members in 2020
After the pass of the new Statute and the appointment of the new Garante (who is also the Party’s Privacy Officer) arose the problem of the correct keeping of the Book of the Members, which is the legal book every association in Italy must compile to register its members with base personal data and identification information.
Maintaining the Book of the Members is a necessary binding to comply with the law, no matter what. Every association in Italy must have this registration. So the Party have to have it, who chose years ago this form of organization.
Before the new Statute and the new Garante (who is a lawyer, as I said, not a raging computer boy pretending to know everything) the Party was not keeping this book in somewhat legal form. The Party has never kept that book at all.
The idea of not having a legal binding document with members’ information maybe lay into a misconception: the supremacy of privacy over transparency survived the old Italian Pirate Party techno-utopian soul.
No one can have any doubt that the Pirate Party in Italy is now on the front to support citizens’ privacy.
But as a Party organization, it is difficult to argue its activities should be hidden for privacy reasons.
It was also against the Party bylaws, but most of the old bylaws were simply not implemented, “by tradition”. That is an unhappy claim for a political party.
Certainly, Party members should be able to choose the form in which they support their ideas and not necessarily put in a position to expose their political preferences if they won’t. This’ an open issue we’re debating in the Party.
It is unthinkable for a modern Party to take its decisions by secret players or participants. Especially when they want to decide day by day.
Alas, in the Italian Party Liquid Feedback, there were complete anonymous profiles. Behind nicknames, people didn’t even show up in a face to face meetings or online conferences. Some didn’t answer to messages and emails.
Moreover, in the party administration, there was a closed group which managed assets by “traditions legacy”, not by public party choices or any direct link to the responsibility of an appointed position.
As this all was very awkward, with a proper Congress choice, we decided that if some wanted to stay on the online Permanent Congress, he should have been personally traceable in the Members’ Book, not only because that is a legal binding, and because the transparency of decision in a political body should win over bureaucrats privacy.
Are we selecting politicians or bureaucrats who would invoke privacy to hide their political or administrative actions when elected?
I know that someone is trying to push this as a conflict over privacy issue at stake in Pirate Party, and this is not. This is a political issue about the things the Party says in respect of the things that the Party does.
On the one hand, this is simply the need of respect law (this all is somewhat revolutionary in Italy), on the other hand (as we are a political party and we want to compete even against the laws if that is fit), we all italian pirates together valued, with a proper decision in our democratic platform, even with qualificate majorities, to go that way because the risk to get a charge of supporting fake profiles in the Permanent Congress was real.
Since 2013, as Liquid Feedback impose an overt vote, the idea of old Italian Pirates was that acting as anonymous could mitigate the problem of a free and independent ballot.
This kind of hack was obviously of no help, due for instance, the delegation issues. The idea then gave birth to a series of other missteps that imposed the Party departing from fundamental transparency of proper party management and democratic life.
One slice over the other, before 2019, that extremist and radical misconception of privacy led to the complete debacle of the Party politics. This kind of anonymity was maybe useful to win internal battles (maybe using fake profiles o sock puppets) and of no use in real-world politics where real faces, words and behaviours, are important.
Defending citizens privacy is the polar star of the Pirate Party, and glass-house transparency is the inescapable method of management.
Even if Pirate Party in Italy, didn’t seem to have practised transparency before the new 2020 Statute, as far as I can value there was no significant malpractice or other illegal issues about treasury management or any other aspect of the Party. It was only prototypical malpractice.
Before 2019, when the Party became no more than a small closed club, the only real allegation you can move is just sloppiness and friendliness management of the association. That friendliness couldn’t endure in real life, were elected board face responsibility for Party adherence to the law. One of these errors of carelessness by people who claim to know how to handle everything and they don’t, is costing us a fine of 14,000 € got for the elections. The very same lawyer who is demanding the proper management of the Book of the Members, is working, pro bono, to try to get us to cancel this fine.
Some other choices were particularly toxic and harmful to the Party.
To assert “radical privacy of the members” the Party came up to hide all its content from the public. The Assembly content was not accessible. Also, search engines and archive.org hadn’t access to the public home site, blog and other information, the Party became virtually invisible to the public. It wasn’t strange that the Party lose any political relevance in the real world. However pirates continued to play their childish plays over and over.
At the end of 2018, the Treasurer resigned. Then (I wasn’t able to trace how many, just to say how were the transparency were ruling in the party) an unknown number of members elected the new Treasurer (who recently said he had a majority of only six heads). Just six.
As we can read in the Liquid Feedback proposals, the motivation for the resignation of the 2018 Treasurer was the depthless commitment of the Party to find new members and the considerable cost of technical systems the Party had. (I’ll talk about this later).
The 2019 elections were the perfect occasion to raise the number of members. We had a good stage, and we did a good performance. However, two significant problems arose: a) the nominal membership fee was of no help to give minimal resources to the Party which ended in loss and b) the complete mess of procedures, programs, rules and praxis in the bylaws.
New members should have found an efficient Party. They found the Party in astonishingly terrible shape. We had to reform the whole Party and first of all against the toxic rhetoric of old members. They harshly demanded a sort of gamified approach to the assembly where all should struggle against each other—the opposite of politics where you should find mediation points.
The Book of the Members issue.
As said, there was no Book of the Members. And there was more.
Every once in a semester, for the old bylaws, the Treasurer should have published a list of members. He never did, nor in 2019 nor 2020. This lack led to grumbling over the presence, in the Assembly, of fake profiles.
At the time, the Party had an online application, programmed in a somewhat naive way, getting membership requests. That application partially supported the peculiar and intricate workflow for the sign up in the Party.
This application had an encryption module for personal data. It also provided different simultaneous tasks. It managed the first contact with interested people; sharing data between different roles involved in memberships and finally definitive “secure” store of personal data (which, however, although registered in the database in encrypted form were still accessible on the web interface, which was undoubtedly nor error nor malfunction-proof and therefore prone to possible data leaks). However, in 2019 and 2020, we had to complete most memberships by hand. All this application workflow was of little use.
One of the most notorious problems was the lousy application relationship with the email server, which often prevented the people interested in the membership from receiving the confirmation or subsequent emails that would start the registration process (new applicants should be reached out by hand and most never received the application emails). These continuing malfunctions, and the complex workflow, led to other grumblings over the fear of selections at the access.
We had a loss of many registrations to the Party which, as said by some applicants later on reached by myself in person, appeared to be clumsy in its most essential activity, which was true.
The application (now dismissed) prevented both the registration of new members and the keeping of the accurate list of members. Maybe the SQL table of the Privacy Officers came from this system.
And in the end, no one ever updated that SQL table as of August 2019, and there was any Book of the Members in legal form.
So, when the Party appointed the new Garante, no Book of the Members existed at all. Not having this is very unfortunate, not only why we were not upholding the law, and because the bylaws dictate that only members who are in the Book fo Members, can have rights. So without this, we cannot be sure – in positive or negative who was legally operating in the party.
As there were members who were known and others utterly unknown to the Privacy Officer, hence responsible for the Party, the only way was to recover back the legal form of that Book of the Members. There was no other way.
How to became anonymous?
Back in time, the Party appointed new members with a rather clumsy process called «certification». After three months people requesting membership to the party, if some party member has ever contacted them, should have been “identified” (or «certified») in a one-on-one online session with a member of the Party who later guaranteed on their identity.
They had to give some personal data and show the ID to the certifier, who could not take a snapshot of it. The certifier loaded data to the platform. Then there was a number of steps. Some waited even six or more months to gain their membership. “Friends” were appointed in hours. After this «certification» long journey ended, the new member could become finally pirate and act, then on, in a completely anonymous manner without any record in the Book of the Members.
This privacy-oriented «certification» process didn’t take in the account that the certifier itself could resign from the Party, or simply vanish. For instance, I was «certified» back in 2013, in person, by someone now I don’t even know how to find. He «certified» me, and he isn’t a Pirate anymore. How can the actual Party have faith in him? Moreover, if the Party have to show the real identity of a member (for instance in defamation litigation) how it could do? Not only the Party could not find the «certifier», that himself could be anonymous. Then there is no registration in some form of Book of the Members.
The only information known to the Party could well be solely an email. Maybe even not. The only place where the Pirates stored it is Liquid Feedback. But he could also have deleted the email from the profile. This way, one could vote, make proposals, or make any act of misbehaviour, as an utter anonymous profile besides its nick. As he can also change its nick, tracing back his identity, it is not easy (or even impossible).
In the Liquid Feedback platform, all members, also those completely anonymous, can write anything freely, no moderation exists. And all remain in the open by design.
Opening that platform on the Internet, as we decided, there is a substantial risk for the Party of being considered accomplices in possible defamatory issues.
Even if the members can use pseudonyms, and change them how many times they want, we decided there should be a direct link with their proper name online, and they have to be listed in the Book of the Members, as the law however mandates. This way an eventual request from investigators could not jeopardize the Party.
Some formal steps
The 10th of April 2020 the Party adopted the new bylaws. The motion was in discussion for over three months. It was approved with a qualified majority (supported by 68% of the voters), just before the Party Congress on the 17th of April 2020.
https://agora.partito-pirata.it/initiative/show/6777.html [unfortunately that links can only be visited by members of the Party]
As we saw, the new bylaws required for a new members’ ombudsman called Garante (guarantor) who has, among other things, the responsibility as Privacy Officer in the Party. The Statute requires that the Party Garante should have a degree in law.
During the Party Congress on the 18th of April, 2020, the Lawyer Aldo A. Pazzaglia, yet twice a member of the Arbitration Board of the Pirate Party in Italy, was elected as Garante, with the required qualified majority (94% voted in favour). The passed motion was:
«Following the adoption of the new party statute and regulations on 10/04/2020, the prompt election of the Party Garante appears useful with this motion, the Congress thanks very much the work of the expiring Arbitration Board, composed by Prof. Maria Chiara Pievatolo, by Avv. Rebecca Berto and Avv. Aldo Pazzaglia, who worked with recognized impartiality and great competence, allowing the Party to obtain unprecedented authority in this field. As for articles 2.2.3 and 3.1.3 of the Bylaws and in compliance with art. E.1.1. of the Electoral Procedure, given the possession of the requirements, set out in art. E.3.5, with this motion, is proposed Aldo a. Pazzaglia, a former member of the last two Arbitration Boards, as Party Garante for the year 2020. »
On the 7th of May, 2020, the proposal asking to “open” the Congress was approved by qualified majority (96% of the votes in favour).
Given the approval of the new Statute and in particular the substantial transformation of the expression organ of Liquid Democracy in the Pirate Party from the Permanent Assembly ( instance “Agorà” on the LiquidFeedBack platform) to the Permanent Congress.
Considering the opportunity to highlight, even in the instance, the evolution of the instrument where the “Liquid Democracy” is exercised, opening a new one to be called “Congress”.
All this seen and considered, the Pirate Party, meeting in the Permanent Congress, for the reasons indicated above,
the executive and collegial bodies of the Pirate Party, according to their respective competence, to activate a new instance, on the LiquidFeedBack platform, called “Congress” with the following particular requirements:
a) that the works of the new instance are public and accessible, read-only, to all;
b) that only registered pirates can operate on the new instance, by way of example, by submitting motions, amendments and voting;
c) compliance with the provisions of the General Regulation on the Protection of Personal Data, (Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 27th of April 2016);
d) that the old application can no longer operate on the activation of the new one;
e) that the old instance can access the pirates entered even if registered after closing the same instance.”
Under the new responsibilities assigned to the Party Garante, even as the Privacy Officer on the 2nd of June, the Garante Aldo A Pazzaglia has therefore autonomously initiated a procedure of “extraordinary revision” of the Book of the Members to establish which pirates were actually registered in the Party, without any doubt.
The need of this revision was twofold: on the one hand, only pirates enrolled in the Book can vote in Congress, on the other hand with the publicity of the Congress, the Party could not tolerate unknown or fake profiles, even for potential defamatory issues that could arise.
Identification of Congress participant is a necessary legal requirement.
«Given that the Pirate Party Association has the right to participate only the pirates enrolled in the association’s Book of the Members and for this reason, the Book of the Members must be kept complete and updated with all the data necessary to identify the members uniquely.
Therefore, it was deemed appropriate to carry out an extraordinary revision of the Book of the Members also to adapt its content to the regulatory, statutory and regulatory provisions which occurred.
Having said this, the Garante, in his function of ombudsman the Party’s members (art. 2.2.3 paragraph 1 of the Statute) and the Privacy Officer (art. 2.2.3 paragraph 3 of the Statute), communicates the start of the extraordinary revision of the Pirate Party Book of the Members which will end on Sunday the 7th of June 2020.
To this end, it invites registered pirates to send their email address to garante[at]partito-pirata.it where they can be contacted. “
As you can see previous officers (the Privacy Officer or Treasurer didn’t give him any information about the members, not even their emails, that he had to request in the Liquid Feedback platform)
On the 6th of July in the Executive Council meeting (online), Alessandro Ciofini, then Treasurer and also a head member of the technical group, stated the readiness of the new Congress platform.
The Executive Council hence determined in two weeks later, the 18th of July, the switch-on date for the new public Congress of the Pirate Party in Italy.
Executive Council also asserted a real name policy in all Congress activity (pseudonyms are allowed, provided that they connect to a real name) to overcome the fake profiles issue. The decision was formally communicated in Liquid Feedback as https://agora.partito-pirata.it/initiative/show/6923.html
«We inform you that, as emerged at the meeting of the Executive Council of 6/7/2020, the new instance called “Congress” will be active at 00:01 on Saturday the 18th of July 2020. From that moment on, all the proposals and other initiatives, as well as the communications to the Congress, must be presented on the new application. The old application called “Agorà” will remain active only for the proposals and initiatives, as well as for the communications to the Congress already in progress at that moment.
Only the pirates who, at the end of the procedure for integrating and updating the Book of the Members of the Pirate Party Association, will be registered by 17/07/2020 inclusive, will be activated in the new “Congress” instance.
The pirates who send the documentation after that date will be able to operate on the “Congress” application only after their enrollment in the Book of the Members. We remind all pirates that the works in the “Congress” application will ever be public.
Besides be advised that, other than the name and surname and nickname, all other data that will be entered by the user in his own profile on the “Congress” application will also be public.
Every user will be public and traceable through name and surname and nickname, as per the presentation of proposals and amendments, support for initiatives, vote and any comments on the ballot.
Only on the 9th of July, so well after there communications, the previous Party Privacy Officer, Michele Pinassi handed over to the current Garante, the said SQL table with some member profiles.
On the 14th of July the Garante Avv. Aldo A. Pazzaglia published in the Permanent Assembly the communication «i6932: Recognition result of the Shareholders’ Book delivered to me on the 9th of July 2020.»
«The Book of the Members delivered to me on the 9th of July 2020 by Michele Pinassi (o-zone), previous Privacy Officer, and transmitted to him by Luca Talamazzi (briganzia) who was the Privacy Officer before him and who was and is the person in charge in the CTO (technical committee) of the party registration procedure, does not report all the names and data of the pirates who currently operate on the LQFB platform.
Of the 49 pirates (plus one) declared as enrolled in 2020, 26 are totally unknown in the Book of the Members, while for the remaining 23 there are only partial notes.
In addition, (not enrolled in 2019) there are members with the incremental number from no. 2 to no. 585 and from n. 611 at no. 645. On the other hand, the members with the incremental number from no. 586 at no. 610 are not existent. The n. 611 turns out to be a test. The N. 631 is a duplicate of n. 627.
However, the data relating to the payment of membership dues is missing for all (except for rare data made in years dating back).
To date, therefore, a widespread situation of illegality has been set up for the Pirate Party Association in Italy concerning the correct and orderly keeping of the Book of the Members.
For this reason, I renew to everyone the request to send the suggested data with the email sent to everyone on the 6th of July, 2020.
If the email has not reached you, please check the “spam” box.
For any further information, you can send your requests to [email protected] »
On the 15th of July, the Garante published the communication “i6934: First report Recognition of the Members Book” in the Permanent Assembly.
The following pirates have sent the required documentation, for the purposes of registration, integration and correction of data in the Member Book of the Pirate Party Association in Italy:
1. Emmanuele Somma ... .......................... exedre; 2. Marco AL Calamari ... ....................... calamarim; [... other names follow]
Having proven their right to be registered in the Book of the Members, being correctly registered there, and having they provided the necessary authorizations for the publication of the required minimum data to exercise the right to vote, the names indicated above can be inserted in the new “Congress” instance on the LQFB platform.
Pirates are invited to send the documentation, already requested by email sent on the 6th of July 2020 (if nothing has been received, please check the “spam” folder), in order to register, integrate and correct the data in the Book of the Members, necessary and sufficient condition for inclusion in the new “Congress” instance on the LQFB platform.»
To this public communication, was submitted by a member a comment saying:
Asking for personal data from those who are already regularly registered cannot be binding for inclusion in the new “Congress” application on the LQFB platform.
All members who are in good standing with the registration have the right to access and participate in the Party’s activities without limitations.
the Garante replied:
«As per previous communication, NOBODY was regularly registered in the Book of the Members of the Association Pirate Party. Currently, only the eleven names indicated above have been regularized.
Only those who are regularly registered in the Register of Members and (“and” subjunctive and not disjunctive) who have expressly given authorization for privacy purposes can access the “Congress” application.
Silence, of course, means denying authorization. “
To my knowledge, more than 50% of previously enrolled users in Agorà have issued the required documents. Three members have resigned, two more have informed us they are not interested in having a public profile, and they support the Party as well.
Three other has sent a cease and desist orders asking not to be identified.
They also wanted to block new Congress without their presence, with no legal basis and not even personal identification for issuing the request.
Most of the remaining profiles has not even yet answered to the Garante first email. No profile that led the doubts of being fake has reacted to the call.
On the other hand, the Party also had four new memberships since August, and three other members, who said they were strangely unable to access the old Assembly before, are now fully operative.
The need for the member identifications in a Book of the Members come from a legal obligation we (as every association with a regular basis in Italy) can’t escape.
On the other hand, even if there were no diatribes or skirmishes in the Congress by now, real name policy for public Congress has not yet proven, to date, to be an effective countermeasure. We can think about it.
The technical issues
The Party Assembly recently elected also the CTO (Technical Committee). I should briefly mention the circumstances that led to this because these, too, have a significant impact on the party problems.
The CTO was a sort of inner circle in the management of the Party until the recent election. They had most of the assets (domains, sites, accounts and so on).
Although the Party’s technical services left something to be desired, the Party was stuck in a strange situation. On the one hand, the technical group was unable to follow the various things it had in the pipeline, and on the other, it was reluctant either to abandon unnecessary activities or to accept the help of other resources that had recently joined the Party.
Moreover, expenditure on technical services was the only one relevant in 2018, in 2019 and will be so in 2020, accounting for the principal part of the budget and responsible for the substantial annual loss.
In a specially convened online Assembly to discuss technical services and gather willingness to help the CTO, the former Treasurer who was also a principal member of the CTO, made it clear that in his view the CTO should remain a closed group which could only be entered by co-optation and outside the Party’s choice and decision making.
Nonetheless, following these statements, they asked the Assembly to be confirmed as CTO. They were in fact rejected by the vote.
In the end, just the day before the switch to the new Congress, with an inexplicable hurry, the old CTO left abruptly and handed over to the new one. They forced the new CTO, who had no experience, to activate by themself the new Congress within the hours with an action that seemed childish and spiteful to many.
Also, on the very day of the switch-off other members of previous CTO retracted their willingness to work in the technical group. Some others didn’t want to fulfil the requirements for the inscription in the Book of the Members, maybe in retaliation for the non-election of the old CTO.
This long report is to explain what’s going on in the Italian Party. I am not surprised that someone may have tried to circumvent the internal life of the Italian Party in attempting to impose his vision from the above.
Politics is made up of decisions and the ability to implement them in a concrete and lawful way, without being enslaved into improper bondage of clumsy traditions, childish pretensions, inability to engage in dialogue or the will of supremacy or to act like an alpha male wanting to ever prevail over all the others.
Every choice can leave behind people who want to overcome the group without even trying to convince of their positions. Still, every time one goes, some others can come. To lose someone also means to find others: new friends, new supporters and new advocates if the Party has, as it has better conformed its action with its words. How can a Party advocate transparency if it is non-transparent?
These two years were difficult for the Italian Party, as we had to reach the common ground for praxis, rules and also people behaviour.
The law requires the enrollment of the members in the Book of the Members. The Privacy Officer cannot miss that, without being personally responsible. Nor we can go on, willing to be a real party, without adhering to necessary law prescriptions. We can certainly go for nonviolent passive resistance against bad laws, and this’ not the case. Who is complaining has not even put his face on its complaining, for instance, talking in one of our weekly online assemblies;
Who wants not to be enrolled in that Book, is actually requesting to the Privacy Officer committing something unlawful. There is no way in retaining privacy and be enrolled in the Party without proper identification. The sheer fact that the Party was unlawful in previous times cannot be a justification for staying unlawful now. Before the appointment of the new Statute, the Privacy Officer was not competent lawyers, and the Party have a somewhat relaxed relationship with law adherence;
Members data are kept in the most secure form offline. Members can send them, as some of them has done, with PGP encrypted messages. The Garante deletes them from the online socket as soon as he receives it. He then manages the data in a offline computer. I’m sure our Privacy Officer keeps them in the most secure form. Anyone having specific complains can obviously express in the proper form and we’ll take them in all the account. As I can easily demonstrate, that cannot be said of the previous state of things. Other parties had huge fines on that kind of problems.
Pseudonym policy linked to the personal public name was chosen by the Executive Committee and the Assembly to better protect the Party from the allegations of using fake profiles in its democratic life. These rants were common in the previous situation. I dare to say, this’ a right balance from the total transparency a Party should adopt over complete anonymity Italian Pirate were accustomed to. The Congress stated that complete anonymity in politics could not be at stake in this situation.
In Italy, since 2019 election, no one was ever expelled from the Party. For the new bylaws (opposed to the previous), no one can even expel a member from the Party for whatsoever reason it is. I struggled to have this article passed, and I firmly believe in it more than ever.
Some members have voluntarily not fulfilled the requests we have voted together in the democratic platform, and the majority of Party members has yet fulfilled. Their choice they make was entirely their choice. If they fulfil, as others had, they will be in Congress. As for the decision taken, they could have battled against at the time (and some also voted for), or they could freely accept it now to try to change it after. It’s only up to them. Try to interfere from the outside, I dare to say, is the hallmark of their democratic mentality.
Requesting a complete anonymity policy for the access to the public Congress, like someone requests, and moreover adopting a behaviour in public that could be possibly not responsible, could lead to charges for the Party of being accomplices to hate crimes or defamations. The very idea of hate crimes is undoubtedly something we have to struggle against, but there can’t be a debate on members responsibility for what they do in person. No one can hide behind the Party to try to gain sick irresponsibility under the Party flag. I’m very sure I’m now President of the Pirate Party in Italy because I firmly believe that the only ethics in politics is the ethics of responsibility. I cannot advocate people not wanting to be publicly responsible for the acts they do in public.
And one more thing
I am the President of the Party Congress in Italy. Congress took these decisions in an entirely legal way. Most decisions had the vote and the support of those who, afterwards, walked away. They perhaps voted in the hope of manipulating the result not to implement decisions. Manipulators are common in politics. They try to achieve results in different ways than the direct and legal way, for instance acting from outside the proper and democratic system.
Or they simply were not accustomed to implementing decisions, as were the Party before the 2019 elections.
As President of the Congress, I will defend the decisions of the Congress, from these oblique complains. You name it the defense of the political sovereignty of our democracy.
The Italian Party has its form of member protection, for example, the member ombudsman, to which, as far as I know, no one has ever complained in the ways foreseen by our Statute.
Italy, although weak, is still a state under the rule of law and organizations like ours must undergo strict forms of control. No one has even filed claims in that.
Sorry if this may seem rude.
As you know, formally presenting written claims, in proper bars or courts exposes to the risk of the assessment of slander if one claims things he knows untrue. Slander is a criminal offence.
I would not believe that the European Pirate Party, out of friendship or traditionalism, supports trials to intentions beyond the law based only oblique whining against a member Party, over a purely politic affair in the internal life.
Next Saturday the Pirate Party in Italy will be among the organizers of the unofficial ceremony of the affixing of a plaque to the Infamous Pillar. This was the name of the court that presumptuously and on the basis of rumours and slander condemned the anointers of the plague of the seventeenth century. One of the most renowned italian writer of all the times, Alessandro Manzoni, narrated it in a book “History of the Infamous Column”. This book has remained, together with “Of crimes and punishments” by Cesare Beccaria, as one of the foundations of the political culture of justice in Europe. I hope that the European Party wants to be on the side of those who commemorate the bad of the Infamous Column and not contribute to writing another chapter.
In the last two years, me personally and the “new pirates”, but above all the whole Party Congress in Italy has suffered continuous attacks on its freedom and legitimacy by those who have not had a minimal interest in sharing the path towards making politics together.
Probably they feel anthropologically superior, anthropologically more pirate than others. They pretend to be more Pirate than whom, even with daily work, have no even hope of becoming pirate, as they say.
To these ubermenschen pirates, who don’t need proof of facts to be believed, other than their seniority and seasoning, we can only answer that if ever they are right and they are alone. We are united. Everyone could read personal curricula of people united in this new Party, and what they’ve done since 90s in the digital rights scene.
Politics, for my peers and me, is to make mistakes together rather than being right alone.
I don’t fear who do not want to share mistakes with the Congress and came looking for someone who imposes a party reason for anthropological superiority by force and violence.
We took democratic decisions. We work to enforce them.
Mikulàš, if we got less vague and more detailed criticism, we will be delighted to address the issue together, with the procedures you consider most appropriate.
For now, that’s all.
Emmanuele Somma – President of the Congress of Pirate Party in Italy