Swedish Government Funds New ‘Young Pirates’ Organisation

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Last weekend, the Swedish Pirate Party founded its youth organisation, "Young Pirates". The Young Pirates have over 1000 members, and are therefore eligible to receive funding from the Swedish government. We got the chance to interview its chairman Hugi Ásgeirsson. Hugi is 18 years old, and lives in the northern Swedish city of Kiruna, where he is currently on his last highschool year studying Space Science.

TorrentFreak: So, you’re the chairman of Young Pirates then.

youth pirate partyHA: Aye. It’s taking some getting used to, being the chairman of an organization with so much potential. It’s a common factor among us in the pirate movement that most of us have never been involved in politics at any high ranks. Although there are a few downsides to that, it seems to work in our favour. We are able to do things differently because we don’t know any better, but it turns out that we tend to to things more efficiently than other organizations and

TorrentFreak: When was Young Pirates formed?

HA: Just this weekend actually. That’s when the first and founding board meeting was held. The farthest distance between board members is well over 1500 km, so we held it online, inside a collaborative text editor. That way the protocol was more or less ready for publishing when we were done. We just passed the 1000 member limit by the way, securing government grants.

TorrentFreak: What’s your answer to all those who might claim that Young Pirates is established only to bring government funds to the Pirate Party?

HA: It’s a healthy distrust! It’s not a secret that we and the Pirate Party work towards a common goal, and that we will closely coordinate our efforts. The Pirate Party used up the little resources they had and more (members chipped in with considerable funding for material) in the election. As much as we’d want to help them out, we can’t just push money their way. We will receive government funding for our activities, and we must openly show where our money goes. To just give them money would not be acceptable.

They will however provide us with bandwidth and a system to manage our bookkeeping and memberships – in fact, they currently do all of that for us, and we will pay them for that. It will be considerably less than we would pay a commercial company, so we are really pulling the longer straw in this agreement.

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Party and the surrounding movement has been a very grassroots initiative. Work is almost exclusively done out of idealism, without monetary incitements (the members doesn’t get paid). Does that influence the kind of things you can do, i.e. can you use a more aggressive or provocative approach than other, more established organisations, as you have no political careers to protect?

HA: Actually, in a certain way it rather makes us less aggressive than other political parties. We have always had the agenda that the goal is to get these points of view and argument taken into account when decisions are made. We strongly feel that a root cause behind today’s intellectual property laws, is that the politicians don’t fully understand the dismay that their agenda is causing. We want them to understand this, that’s primary. To get into parliament, is secondary.

That’s why part of our work will be to talk to other parties, to present our arguments and influence them incorporate our ideology into their agenda. I can’t really think of another party that would do that.

TorrentFreak: How have you been able to do things more effeciently than other organisations and parties? Can you use your relative inexperience as an excuse to solve problems in a non-conventional manner?

HA: Absolutely! We do it all the time. The founding board meeting was held with a combination of Google Docs and a group chat. The order of our candidates when the Pirate Party ran for election in September was decided by an online direct-democracy election in which all members where allowed to participate. The membership to the party requires no physical paperwork, and is handled through an online registration and payment through SMS. We are able to register members in real time, and member can change their own personal information by logging in to our system. That saves us a lot of work.

The pirate movement works much like an open source project, and has more or less the same pros and cons. During the election, the agenda was; if you have an idea for a campaign – just do it! As long as at least three party members thought that something was a good idea, it was a “go”. This is how the Young Pirates federation will function as well. On the other hand, nobody likes the boring stuff – like bookkeeping and filing. One of our first priorities, if we get
funding, will be to hire someone to do that for us.

TorrentFreak: What is the main purpose of Young Pirates, and what will their activities be?

HA: Of course, we will be promoting free information, abolished patents and a protected private life. Bringing these points of argument into the public debate and into parliament in Sweden, Europe and Worldwide is the main purpose of Young Pirates. But exactly what will be done is up to the members.

The Young Pirates federation is a sort of umbrella organization for many local Young Pirate organizations around the country. They do the real footwork. The federation board will look over the budget, act as a central node, set out guidelines for the organization and coordinate bigger efforts. A few early stage ideas are concerts featuring pirate-friendly artists, campaigns promoting open-source for government institutions, educating the public about file-sharing techniques and setting up pirate organizations at schools and universities. Being a youth movement, we can be more provocative and
edgier than the Pirate Party.

TorrentFreak: How is Young Pirates organised regionally?

HA: In local, semi-autonomous organizations with separate budgets. In rough terms you can say that the members belong to the local organizations, and the local organizations belong to the federation

TorrentFreak: What are its formal ties and relations with the Swedish Pirate Party?

HA: There are close ties between the two. All members so far have been recruited there, and many local organizations require their members to also be members of the Pirate Party. Actually, everyone that becomes a member of Young Pirates is offered a years paid membership in the Pirate Party. Without the Pirate Party, there would be no Young Pirates.

TorrentFreak: And finally, what is in store for Young Pirates in the near future? What are the immediate plans, and when do you think the Swedish public will start noticing your presense?

HA: The board is on a short hiatus until after christmas. After that we will start to build the organization from scratch. We will form work groups to deal with the most basic areas; building a website, defining standpoints and establishing a presence in schools and universities. There is a lot to be done! The first annual annual Young Pirates federation congress will be held in March or April. Before that we will have to have a sturdy organization up and running. How soon until we start making noise will be up to the members, but judging by the previous pirate achievements, I’ll bet it won’t be long.


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