Pirate Party set for success in Germany

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There's a general election in Germany in September, and the German Pirate Party, Piratenpartei, looks set for success. According to Spiegel, the conditions are just right for them.

Germany has recently introduced a law against child porn. Fair enough you may say, but Internet experts in Germany think the solution proposed is technically not up to the job, and civil liberty campaigners fear the system will be used to censor other material (they're probably right).

This is part of a wider problem: many Germans today, particularly younger ones, use the Internet as an integral part of their daily life, whereas many other Germans, particularly older ones and politicians, see the net as something alien which needs to be controlled. As Spiegel puts it:

It has become clear that the political landscape is split by a digital trench. On one side of the divide are those who see the Internet as the haunt of terrorists and child molesters, and who are calling for more control. And on the other side are those who value the Web as part of their personal freedom. They view it as an environment in which they can feel completely at ease when it comes to organizing their lives, work, friendships and romance online. And for them, the Internet is also a place of protest.

So who will German digital natives vote for? Not Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU; the minister who came up with the Internet censorship law belongs to her party:

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen -- both CDU members -- are associated within the Internet community with online surveillance of criminals and blocking Web sites. As a result, images of the two politicians have appeared on thousands of Web sites, next to slogans like "Stasi 2.0" (a reference to the East German secret police) and "Zensursula," a play on the German word for censorship and von der Leyen's first name.

They probably won't vote for the SPD either: they support the censorship law, and their chairman Franz Müntefering still uses a portable typewriter.

What about the Greens? They are conflicted -- some support the censorship law, others oppose it.

The Free Democrats? They are tainted by their past support for government snooping:

The hard core of the Internet community resents the FDP because legislation enacted in 1998 that allowed the police to conduct electronic surveillance in private homes was approved when the FDP was part of a coalition government.

In fact there's only one choice that German digital natives can make, that will send an unambiguous signal to the political establishment: hands off our Internet, hands off our freedom, hands off our rights.

That choice is Piratenpartei.