(Article changed on April 23, 2013 at 10:48)
(Article changed on April 23, 2013 at 10:13)
Iceland has been front and center in world news for the last five years. The country with the oldest seated Parliament in Europe has survived, albeit battered and bruised, the third largest banking and economic collapse in recorded history. They used the power of the internet in the most innovative and creative way the world has ever seen; by creating a crowd sourced constitution, written online by the people and for the people.
This is what free, open source internet mixed with democracy now provides in the 21st century. Left unfettered, its possibilities are endless. Iceland's use of the internet has not only given its citizens (whose population is spread out across a volcanic island roughly the size of Kansas) a way to send in their ideas of good governance into Parliament; it has given its government, keen to hear the will of the people, a means to include the whole population in real democracy, in real time, and create a crowd sourced constitution.
This week, Iceland is holding the newest and most cutting edged election that the world has ever seen. As a result of Banksters and corrupt corporations, deregulation and the kinds of speculation and insider trading that has destroyed many of the world's economies, Icelanders have become completely fed up with their own corrupt and incompetent government. Some citizens are no longer paying attention (sounds familiar), but most of the citizens of Iceland are more involved than they have ever been before.
Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson is one of those citizens. Not only is he running for a seat in Parliament, this is his first time running for elected office. He is also running as a member of one of the newest of ten political parties in Iceland - the Pirate Party.
Many people around the world from Norway to Italy, from Russia to the US, have heard of the member if Icelandic Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, who raised global awareness for the need of open and transparent governance as a member of Wikileaks and supporter of Bradley Manning. Birgitta is running in the Southwest Constituency for the Pirate Party.
Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson is running in the North, the first person to run in his district for the Pirate Party. Helgi is a 32 year old computer programmer with a true global awareness. He loves the internet and how it has transformed our lives.
Helgi said he was attracted to the Pirate Party after he had listened to Birgitta Jonsdottir, founding member in Iceland, speak. He paid careful attention, as she was a Parliamentarian and part of forming the Pirate Party in the wake of the destruction of their country's entire economy.
The Pirate Party is the only party that understands the modern 21st century, Helgi says. Most people understand that if they buy software for their computer, it makes it easier to do their taxes. What they do not understand is how modern regulation impacts freedom of expression, and even our ability to maintain a democracy.
The world's authorities do not understand the consequences or the impact of their decisions, Helgi says, as they blunder about trying to make outdated laws to censor the information we should all be allowed to share. They are trying to cram old ideas into this new industry and it simply does not work.
The internet is not like any other industry. What we need are strong laws of civil rights that would govern how countries regulate online information. Now that we are connected to the rest of the world, we need to think more internationally. Instead of world leaders trying to figure out how to program a kill switch in order to censor or completely cut off their population from the rest of the world, we need to understand that online connection is directly tied to democracy; our rights, freedoms and a right to privacy; a right to prevent the government from spying on all of us without reasonable cause and with a search warrant granted by a civilian court of law, only if there is just cause.
Destroying the internet is akin to destroying the printing press or the telephone, whatever basic tool that humanity has created in order to speak freely and be connected with each other.
Take the USA, and their government's ongoing effort to pass censorship laws and laws to spy on civilians at their will; laws that give the government free reign to steal and file all of one's personal data; a way to put every human on earth on a kind of perpetual FBI watch list. There is no transparency. No one knows what this information is being used for or who is being spied upon and for what reason. The US is not just invading the privacy of Americans, it is invading the privacy of any world citizen with access to the internet. CISPA is another way to impose military control over a once free American population. US bills like CISPA declare war on information as though information is the enemy. These laws make no distinction about what information the US government is trying to control. Ultimately of course, the goal is to control the American people and curtail their freedoms.