CULTURE: A Discussion on Piracy and Politics

Hearing an artist I like usually means typing their name into Google. Typing their name might also include typing ‘download’ and ‘torrent’ alongside it.  Perhaps, but not always.

One of the cofounders of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, gave an interview with Wired UK. One of the more politically engaged of the site’s original creators, he is running for a seat in the European Parliament as a member of Sweden’s Pirate Party. The noted torrent site has amassed controversy, being blocked in some countries. But proxy versions of the sites have been made all over the world, giving access to The Pirate Bay.  Sunde says, “The distrust of the political system is unhealthy…We need a revolution instead of a technology evolution.”

Staring at my MacBook does not raise questions about political ethic. Instead, I’m more interested in how many people are seeding a given torrent and how long it will take. This lack of engagement with the democratic process is something, I imagine, to not be uncommon. Sunde continues by describing “nerds” as the “new elite” and calling on them for political reform. “…[But] they are kind of lazy bastards who are too arrogant to go onto the streets.” Just wanting to save some money and time: all I really think about as I click through pages and blocked links.

An outspoken advocate against the NSA’s surveillance programs, Sunde believes that technology can serve a negative political cause if not used appropriately. “You actually need to go somewhere and vote and make sure you don’t have corrupt police…But there’s a faith in technology as the savior, as the new Messiah, and that’s definitely not the case.” He applauds the services of Spotify and Netflix but says that Pirate Bay isn’t up to run at the same level that those are. However, still believing that both are susceptible to NSA surveillance. Sunde details plans for an encrypted messaging app known as Hemlis (the Swedish word for ‘secret’).

Privacy is something that everybody worries about. What we do in our own home, on our own computers. Everybody cares about their computers, even if they’re not a ‘nerd’.

And although, I’ve never thought of myself as a nerd: I like the idea of genuine change. Especially, if it’s from a fellow Pirate.


Written by Austin MacFadden


The Verse Staff

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