By Jago Kosolosky and Pieter Van Nuffel
This interview was previously published online at Schamper (http://www.schamper.ugent.be/2013-online/in-de-sofa-met-amelia-andersdotter), the student magazine of Ghent University in Belgium. The interview was conducted in cooperation with Vermeylenfonds, a Flemish socio-cultural organization (http://www.vermeylenfonds.be/).
Amelia Andersdotter (25), you are the youngest member of the European Parliament. What is the message you and your party (the Swedish Pirate Party) are trying to get across?
AA: “Now that we are implementing communication technologies on a large scale in our society, we feel that many questions arise which are being ignored by traditional parties. How do we deal with all the information on the Internet? How do we organize our digital society? The decision to invest in certain infrastructure has a huge impact on the way our society develops. Imagine we never invested in roads, our society would look completely different. Now it is important to think about how we can organize our IT infrastructure. The Pirate Party is trying to meet that challenge.”
More than ACTA
Aren’t you afraid that the Pirate Party will always be considered a one issue party, incapable of ever developing a broad program?
“No, because I already look at the Pirate Party as such a complete party. Our people in Germany and Sweden are focusing first and foremost on the question how we can get more people directly involved in the democratic process. We strive for more transparency and direct democracy. At a European level this message is harder to convey because the policy making process in any case is already much more opaque. That is why the emphasis at a European level is on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international treaty to protect intellectual property right and restrict online piracy). But the Pirate Party is definitely more than an anti-ACTA party.
Face the music
How do you fight copyright laws when you look at authors and producers losing money because of piracy?
“They aren’t losing money at all. People nowadays spend a larger proportion of their income on culture than in the past. But that money barely goes to what is being protected by copyright laws. It mainly goes into live concerts, movie theater visits, etc.”
The Internet used to be a free culture in which everyone could stream, read articles, etc. at no cost. American laws threaten to change this. Do you feel that the Internet is bound to be regulated?
“Yes, in any case I feel we are moving towards a more regulated information environment. In a setting where a great number of people interact, common and clear rules may be required. Also because there are commercial players involved, whose wishes do not correspond with those of consumers. In that case, a clear legislation on user rights or on the freedom of speech becomes key. I am not opposed to regulation in itself. I merely feel that the legislation that is being promoted right now, is no good. Copyright laws for instance create more problems than they solve.
Why should I care?!
The average Joe seems to feel excluded from progress being made at the European level. For many among us, it seems like we should not care.
“I agree. The European Union has a major problem when it comes to credibility.”
Do you believe this can be solved entirely by recent measures that grant a larger voice to citizens in public debates, such as the right to petition?
“Naturally I support such measures. I am also convinced that civilians have more possibilities when it comes to participation than they had in the past. The problem is that those decision wind up in the hands of the executive power without any possibility of monitoring. Policymakers simply forward decisions. There is a lack of accountability to taxpayers.”
You have travelled through Europe to visit other chapters of your party. In some countries the Pirate Party is very successful while its popularity remains limited in others. How do you explain this?
“I believe the difference mainly has to do with the political climate at the time when the local division was founded and with the difference in national public debates.”