I spent the weekend of 1-2 February at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The conference was called Think Twice and was a conference organized by Pirate Parties International to “bridge [the gap] between the worlds of the Pirate Parties, Academia and NGO to foster a mutual exchange on ideas and experiences that are worth spreading”.
Below are some of my notes from a few of the talks I attended. These are notes that are a mix of what the presenter claimed and what I understood.
Donations to Political Parties
Regulation of donations to political parties is important in order to prevent corruption and choices made on “income motivations”. One way of regulating donations would be to:
- No donation from “legal persons” (companies)
- Donation cap for persons
- Transparency about political parties income/spending
Much of the funding to political parties goes to promoting themselves during elections instead of being spent “for the good of the citizens”. Money that comes from the state should not be used for flyers, banners and regular administrative costs. It should be used for:
- Fees paid to the state
- service for public (e.g. information campaigns about topics that concern them)
- extraordinary international activities
Whistleblowing was a topic in several of the talks at the conference. Whistleblowing always starts with some choices. First of all, if you even look closer at things that look suspicious and how you judge this activity on a moral scale of right and wrong. The next part is a choice of neglecting what you see, avoiding it by leaving the organization or bring it up by giving the topic ‘voice’.
When you have seen a problem there are still three reasons you might choose to not whistleblow about it:
- Sociology – People generally strive towards harmony, avoid problems, have obediance towards authority and a loyalty to your workfriends over values
- Change? – Will it even change anything if I raise concerns
- Fear of retaliation – You might lose more than gained by bringing it public
Most people first try by raising concerns internally first. If internal does not work you need to find someone that is more powerful and can support you and your issue against the “blockade” of your opinion. A power fight will ensue, which is why whistleblowing often is the last step you take.
Most whistleblowers don’t see themselves as heroes, they often see the system they work within as a good system. This brings up another aspect of whistleblowing dynamics. You are probably not alone in seeing the problem but if you are the one blowing the whistle you are saying that “others did not see it” which might put them in bad light and make them your “enemies” as well. Even if you’re several people that have noted the problem it’s hard to join up since finding allies for whistleblowing means that you can’t be anonymous anymore.
When you find innovative, smart solutions for a company there are normally bonuses. It ought to be the same for people that find negative things for a company. Blowing the whistle on a crime can’t be a crime.
A legal protection for whistleblowers is not all that is needed. Legal law doesn’t care about the subject. Ideally a whistleblower should have at least a lawyer, a doctor (shrink), the union and a journalist on his side.
We’re living in an attention economy which means each whistleblowing can’t get deserved attention from media. We need public authorities to regain control. One of the things that would help would be a change of burden of proof for the whistleblower. If any sanctions happen against the whistleblower the company ought to prove this was not connected to the whistleblowing.
Media is not the solution to most problems. Journalists try to be very careful and have their own agendas and topics. There is very few investigative journalists and even then the newspaper has to agree to publish the story as well. Typically you need to create a “media wave” for something to happen, a task that is very hard to achieve.
Detailing your identity is a way to provide means to build and develop a coherent communication approach. An identity is important as an enabler to be situational in a transcultural context. Knowing what defines you will allow you to be reactive instead of proactive.
The pirate party is a bridge between politics and the “real world”. PP is an enabler for citizens to be active in democracy. The pirates are a bridge between the digital age and normal people.
There were a few talks about drones at the conference. I learnt that drones are much more common than I believed and used frequently, even outside of war. Only Germany owns ~871 UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The german railway company (DB) plan to use drones against grafitti users!
One of the scariest parts about drones is that they can be flying for days without landing at a height where you won’t be able to see them. With modern cameras they are getting more and more detailed analysis of what is happening on the ground. Combine videos from these drones with processing power in super-computer centers and they can detail a lot about people if they want. Having drones above you is very like an “eye in the sky”. Just the fact that “someone might be watching” will cause a change in behavior for people.