As a young person in the UK today, a member of the “digital generation,” you could be forgiven for thinking that none of the major political parties really care about or understand digital issues.
It’s hard to take any politician seriously who says things like “the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain goes bzzzz,” but it’s worse when that politician is the Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport (which includes the internet).
Our current coalition government implemented internet filters which landed the UK on a list entitled “Enemies of the Internet” alongside countries like China and Saudia Arabia. A Labour government wants to make that filtering mandatory, while a Conservative government would put through a Bill that requires internet providers to record browsing activity.
These are the people in charge of making laws that govern our internet usage, and as the biggest users of the internet, that should scare us. But what’s the alternative to waiting for the current generation of politicians to either get digitally savvy or leave office?
There’s always the Pirate Party
Though its name might sound like a joke, the Pirate Party has serious policies on a wide range of digital issues.
It supports a minimum level of broadband access for everyone, protecting the open internet, information sharing and public Wi-Fi. It opposes the ‘locking’ of devices and wants to limit Digital Rights Management, repeal most of the Digital Economy Act and reform copyright law.
Abolish tuition fees
The Pirate Party also advocates for abolishing tuition fees, and with one of the three candidates standing for election in 2015 being a university student, it looks a lot like the party a digitally engaged young person or student should be supporting.
So why aren’t we? The Pirate Party saw a huge surge in popularity in 2009 after four key Swedes behind torrenting site The Pirate Bay were convicted of copyright infringement. But the party was still refining most of its policies at the time, and maintaining that kind of momentum requires serious funding and support. Many would also argue that voting for such a minor party, no matter what its policies, is a waste of a vote.
Still, with a possible two million first-time voters not even planning to vote in May, maybe it’s time the digital generation showed where its priorities lie. Political change has to start somewhere.
– Rebecca Sentance, Interactive Journalism MA student at City University London
This article was initially written for the London Student and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author