The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: January 2014

This Friday Protect the Net!

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Congress is considering approving Fast Track Trade Authority.  If it passes, stopping secret trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a give away to the copyright cartels, would be much more difficult. We are joining with Fight For The Future, the EFF, Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO to oppose this bill. On Friday we will march as part of the Inter-Continental Action Against TPP & Corporate Globalization. Many of us will meet in front of the State House in Boston at 1pm.  We hope you will march with us. If you cannot make it, please contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose Fast Track. Fight for the Future has a site to look up your Representative, but if you know who your Rep. is, we have the contact info for your Rep. & Senators below.  We hear that Neal, Tsongas, Kennedy, Clark and Lynch haven’t said they will oppose the Fast Track bill, so please concentrate on them.  Saying thanks to those who do oppose this harmful bill is always great.  Thanks! Senator Elizabeth Warren – Facebook / @SenWarren / (202) 224-4543(617) 565-3170 / (413) 788-2690 Senator Ed Markey – Facebook / @MarkeyMemo / (202) 224-2742 / (617) 565-8519 1st CD Representative Richard Neal – Facebook / @RepRichardNeal / (202) 225-5601 / (413) 785-0325 2nd CD Representative James McGovern – Facebook / @RepMcGovern / (202) 225-6101 / (508) 831-7356 3rd CD Representative Niki Tsongas – Facebook / @nikiinthehouse / (202) 225-3411 / (978) 459-0101 4th CD Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III – Facebook / @joekennedy / (202) 225-5931 / (617) 332-3333 5th CD Representative Katherine Clark – Facebook / @KClarkCongress / (202) 225-2836 6th CD Representative Jonathan Tierney – @RepTierney / (202) 225-8020 / (781) 595-7375 7th CD Representative Michael Capuano – Facebook / @mikecapuano / (202) 225-5111 / (617) 621-6208 8th CD Representative Stephen Lynch – Facebook / @RepStephenLynch / (202) 225-8273 / (617) 428-2000 9th CD Representative William Keating – Facebook / @WilliamKeating / (202) 225-3111 / (617) 770-3700

published under Main Topic, TPP | Comments Off on This Friday Protect the Net!

privacy eulogy

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Data Privacy Day (28 January) inspired me to write a eulogy for privacy, given the fact that various US government agencies are monitoring and storing most of the interactions I have with electronic devices of all types. dearly beloved- i am writing these lines to remember privacy how as a child privacy let me leave my mistakes behind and learn better- false steps only a skin i shed how as a boy privacy let me leave those lurid obsessions in twisted imagination- future employers ignorance benefit how as a man privacy let me leave hateful unkind weakness in its time- beautiful present moment now as a database record each statement stumble stutter saved in digits- weapons against my self so now let us bow our heads and await the appearance of the new liberation spirit!

published under Civil Liberties, Main Topic, Privacy, Security | Comments Off on privacy eulogy

Pirate Party Prompts Successful Campaign Finance Ruling for Bitcoin

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Press release – Massachusetts Pirate Party – 1/23/2014 7:20 AM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PIRATE PARTY PROMPTS SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN FINANCE RULING FOR BITCOIN Boston, MA – January 23, 2014 – The Pirate Party is pleased that the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) ruled that registered political committees can now accept donations in bitcoins. “The OCPF’s ruling provides another tool for emerging political groups to raise needed funds. It is yet another sign that cryptocurrencies are moving into the mainstream,” said Steve Revilak, the person who requested the advisory opinion and Massachusetts Pirate Party treasurer. The OCPF’s advisory opinion [] was in response to the Massachusetts Pirate Party’s inquiry into the rules governing bitcoin donations to political action committees. The OCPF determined that political committees could accept bitcoin contributions, subject to existing disclosure requirements and contribution limits. Political campaigns would need to convert bitcoins into US dollars within five days of receiving them, just like other financial assets such as stocks and bonds. “The Pirate Party believes that innovation is sorely needed in our political system, and this ruling is part of our effort to shake up politics in Massachusetts,” said Lucia Fiero, secretary of the Massachusetts Pirate Party. “We are proud to have helped candidates and political committees take advantage of the opportunities that cryptocurrencies offer.” Bitcoin is a pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrency where each user starts with a wallet with multiple unique addresses from which they can send and receive bitcoins. While all transactions are public, only a user knows which addresses are theirs. This feature allows users to give out a public address, while retaining many private addresses to use in activities they do not want to be identified with. “Some will complain that by allowing campaigns to accept bitcoins, people will be able to contribute anonymously. Yet, … Read more

published under Campaign Finance, Main Topic | 4 Comments

Commentary on DPU Docket 12-76-A: Investigation by the Department of Public Utilities on its own Motion into Modernization of the Electric Grid

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The Massachusetts Pirate Party submitted the following commentary for DPU Docket 12-76-A, “Investigation by the Department of Public Utilities on its own Motion into Modernization of the Electric Grid.” January 17, 2014 Mark D. Marini, Secretary Department of Public Utilities One South Station, 5th Floor Boston, MA 02110 Re: Comments on DPU Docket 12-76-A: Electric Grid Modernization Please note: this comment submission is under the umbrella of the extension granted by Alison Lackey, Hearing Officer on January 15, 2014. Mr. Marini: I’m writing to express my concerns about mandated smart meter deployment, as part of power grid modernization efforts. Power grid modernization is a worthwhile endeavor, but I believe that mandating smart meter deployments at individual residences is neither necessary, nor in the best interest of the public. Smart meters obviously come with privacy concerns: highly granular meter readings provide an accurate picture of when an individual is home, away, asleep, awake, and even a general idea of what that individual is doing. Beyond basic privacy, there are issues of data retention (how long are the meter readings kept?), data security (how is the data protected, and who has access to it?), and residual data use (can meter readings be shared or sold; to whom, under what circumstances, and for what purposes?). That said, I’d like to focus on issues that are closer to basic computer and network security. A smart meter is a small computer that’s attached to a wireless communications device; in other words, a smart meter is an exposed computer, and a potential attack surface. I’m concerned that a smart meter mandate would create a large number of remotely exploitable network devices, that could be taken over and controlled by a malicious third party. For an example of this sort of thing, see[1] which describes a cyberattack … Read more

published under Main Topic, Security | Comments Off on Commentary on DPU Docket 12-76-A: Investigation by the Department of Public Utilities on its own Motion into Modernization of the Electric Grid

S.1664: An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles

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On Wednesday Jan 22nd, the Massachusetts Senate will hold a hearing on S.1664, An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. S.1664 will: Prohibit Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAVs”, or more commonly called “drones”) from being equipped with weapons; Make it unlawful for government officials to operate a UAV, except to execute a warrant, or in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or safety; Prohibit data collection without a warrant. Along these lines, UAVs could only use biometric software to identify individuals named in a warrant; Prohibit UAVs from being used to track political, religious, or social relations; Require that individuals surveilled by UAVs be served with a warrant; Require annual reporting on warrants involving the use of UAVs. As far as surveillance bills go, S.1664 is a decent one; it puts limits on how law enforcement can use drones within the Commonwealth, and it would prevent drones from being used as instruments of mass surveillance. Furthermore, the bill comes with reporting requirements, which will provide transparency into drone use. Please take a moment to contact your senator, and ask them to support S.1664. If you’re not sure who your state senator is, you can find out from And speaking of voting, 2014 Massachusetts elections are coming up, and we’re looking for people to run as Pirates. If you’re interested in running, please get in touch with us at

published under Issues, Main Topic, Privacy, Transparency | Comments Off on S.1664: An Act to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles

Today: Submit Comments on Smart Meters

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The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is seeking comments on the introduction of smart meters to Massachusetts.  Smart meters can send data on a customer’s usage as well as potentially receive commands, such as to disconnect a user from the grid. The DPU expects to receive comments by 5pm Today, Friday, 1/17. We have multiple questions about smart meters that need to be addressed before they are introduced: Exactly how detailed will the data gathered be? Will it be simply kilowatt hours used or will the data such meters gather be more detailed? Will such meters securely encrypt their communications, preventing third parties from monitoring a customer’s usage or potentially affecting the operation of the meter? Will utilities ensure that the data they receive is identical to the data the meter transmitted or actually originated from the meter?  Will they use public key cryptography and message signing? Who owns the data they collect?  Can it be sold or monitored in real time?  Will governments need a warrant to get it? Can a customer of the utility obtain a copy of her meter data? Exactly what data is transmitted?  What is the record format?  Is it in a proprietary record format, or does it adhere to an open standard? For how long will the utility company retain meter data? Should the meter be able to accept remote commands, we have additional questions: What commands can the meter receive and what actions will the meter take in response to those commands?  In other words, what is the meter’s remote API? How does the meter verify that a remote command came from the customer’s utility and not a malicious third party? What happens when the electric company’s credentials are compromised? For the models deployed, have they been subjected to a security audit?  Are customers able to review meter security audits? Will the electric company periodically upgrade the software … Read more

published under Main Topic, Privacy, Security | Comments Off on Today: Submit Comments on Smart Meters

Mass. Senate Passes On-Line Voter Registration

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Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would bring voting into the 21st century.  The bill allows voters to cast their ballot between 10 and 2 days before an election as well as register to vote online and on Election Day.  The vote was 37 for and 1 against. The Senate bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister, and mark a voter as inactive if they have not voted in two consecutive federal elections, rather than if they have not filled out an annual census.  It also gives 17-year-olds in Lowell the opportunity to vote in local elections should Lowell voters approve the proposal. Thankfully, the Senate rejected efforts to require voters to show photo identification in order to vote. Since the Senate bill differs from the House version, they will need to reconcile the two bills before the final bill goes to the Governor.  Reports are that Governor Patrick supports much of the bill. Please thank your State Senator for voting for this bill and if you haven’t yet, please tell your Mass. House Rep. and State Senator to support Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).  IRV would ensure that the winning candidate in any election has to get a majority of the vote, even when there are three or more candidates on the ballot. Thanks to everyone who called their Senator and to the Election Modernization Coalition for their efforts in getting this bill through the House and Senate.

published under Elections, Main Topic | Comments Off on Mass. Senate Passes On-Line Voter Registration

Tell MA Senate To Say Yes To Online Voter Registration!

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Back in November the Massachusetts House has passed a bill that would bring voting into the 21st century.  The two major improvements are early voting and online voter registration. Early voting is a feature that other states have and will make it easier for busy citizens to vote.  As Pirates, it isn’t hard to see that allowing citizens to register to vote online is a significant improvement. The bill is now before the Massachusetts Senate and will be voted on this Thursday.  Please use this Mass. ACLU page to find your State Senator and tell him or her to support it! While you are at it, please go tell your Mass. House Rep. and State Senator to support Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).  IRV would ensure that the winning candidate in any election has to get a majority of the vote, even when there are three or more candidates on the ballot.  It is a 20th century election reform we badly need. Thanks to the Election Modernization Coalition for their efforts in getting this bill so far.  Lets help them make it law!

published under Elections, Main Topic | Comments Off on Tell MA Senate To Say Yes To Online Voter Registration!

Pirate Party Calls For Network Neutrality In Response To Court Ruling

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PIRATE PARTY CALLS FOR NETWORK NEUTRALITY IN RESPONSE TO COURT RULING New York, NY – January 14, 2014 – The Pirate Party deplores the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality regulations on wireline broadband services. In its ruling against the FCC’s Open Internet Order (OIO), the court said “…consumers, of course, have options; they can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers, or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded,” edge providers meaning companies and services like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. Citing Google Fiber’s entrance into Internet sevice provider market as evidence that the market for ISPs is growing, the court failed to realize that Google’s new service is only available in 3 metropolitan markets in the US, with minimal plans to expand service. “The court’s decision rests on the false assumption that US citizens can choose from a variety of Internet Service Providers in their area. The reality is that 42.9% of U.S. households have access to two or fewer wired ISPs,” said Lindsay-Anne Brunner, Chairperson of the United States Pirate Party. David Kay Johnston, noted tax policy reporter, points out that the telecom companies have been allowed to collect $500 billion over the last 20 years in order to bring American networks into the 21st century. Yet for most Americans, the telecom companies haven’t delivered and US consumers pay four times what the French do, and for fewer services. The lack of competition in our telecom markets is the root cause of this discrepancy. “AT&T Wireless’ plans to charge companies for the right to send video to their customers without chewing up their caps is what happens when telecos can … Read more

published under Main Topic, Net Neutrality | Comments Off on Pirate Party Calls For Network Neutrality In Response To Court Ruling

Party with the Pirates at Arisia this weekend!

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Are you ready to get your geek on? Arisia is a multimedia (mostly sci-fi) convention, populated with people who have very Pirate point of view. Just check out some of these panel discussions: Friday 5:30pm – 3D Printing: What’s Next? Friday 10pm – Cosplay vs. Copyright Saturday 8:30am – Art and Copyright Saturday 1:00pm – What Are Makerspaces? Saturday 2:30pm – Arduino For Beginners Saturday 5:30pm – On a (Circuit) Bender Sunday 4:00pm – Wearable Electronics: Beyond Google Glass & What Censorship Is/Isn’t Monday 10:00am – Air Pirates, Parody & the Limits of Free Speech And this year, for the first time ever, the Massachusetts Pirate Party will have a hospitality room on the convention’s party floor in room 454 of the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, Join us for drinks, snacks, socializing and strategizing: Saturday 1pm – Being watched 24/7: The state of state surveillance 3pm – How to protect your privacy online 5pm – Challenge state surveillance: Run for office! And Joe Guertin’s campaign kickoff! Sunday noon – Being watched 24/7: The state of state surveillance 2pm – How to protect your privacy online 4pm – Open party – Meet the Pirates! 7pm – Open party – Meet the Pirates! (Free snacks and drinks) There is so much going on at the Westin Waterfront this weekend, and the Pirates will be there for you as a place to unwind, and get informed. Please join us!

published under Fun and Games, Main Topic, Out And About | Comments Off on Party with the Pirates at Arisia this weekend!
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