Dec 1, 2010

US Pirate Party: Another Resignation? Faultlines Apparent in Response to Operation:Payback (Update)

The US Pirate Party appears to be in disarray following the resignation of at least one and perhaps two of the party's officers.  As noted here yesterday, the party's legal officer, Andrew Norton, resigned Monday in protest of the leadership's failure to confront Operations Officer Jay Emerson over a controversial immigration proposal that he had allegedly floated online.  That proposal was picked up and excerpted at TPID, but it has since been deleted from the website where it was originally published.  There is word that another officer has now resigned over the matter, but this has not been confirmed, as the Pirate Party's website is "temporarily unavailable" and inquiries for comment went unanswered as of this writing.  (Update: A post at the USPP's Facebook page links to yesterday's post here at TPID, and confirms that two officers have in fact resigned, without any further comment.) 

If this seems an overreaction to a single dispute over a blog post that has been deleted, it is worth considering that the immigration proposal controversy may have become a proxy for a simmering antagonism over Operation Payback.  In recent weeks, tensions have been building within the Pirate Party over the appropriate response to the Anonymous "Operation:Payback" campaign of DDoS attacks which began in September and appear to have ended on November 5th.  From Wikipedia:
Operation Payback is an ongoing, coordinated group of attacks on internet piracy opponents by internet activists. It started as retaliation to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on torrent sites, piracy proponents decided to launch DDoS attacks on piracy opponents in return. It snowballed from there into a wave of attacks on several major anti-piracy groups. Operation Payback is affiliated with Anonymous.
Encyclopedia Dramatica relays the initial "resolution" announcing the operation:
Anonymous is sick and tired of these corporations seeking to control the internet in their pursuit of profit. Anonymous cannot sit by and do nothing while these organizations stifle the spread of ideas and attack those who wish to exercise their rights to share with others. Anonymous will not just watch while others are attacked. Their servers have been shut down and they will remain so for as long as there is no true freedom of information and data.
Following retaliation against the original target, the operation expanded to include the websites of the MPAA, the RIAA and even Gene Simmons, among others.  In mid-November the US and UK Pirate Parties released an open letter to Operation:Payback calling for a cease-fire and urging activists to "seek out a legal method to express your frustration and disquiet with the copyright industry, and their perversions of copyright law for personal gain." 

In a post at Politics & 2P, then-Legal Officer of the US Pirate Party, Andrew Norton, stated that he was the "main architect behind the letter" and laid out his reasons for opposing the attacks.  The discussion that ensued in the comments section of an article at Torrent Freak relaying the letter gives one a good sense of the internal debate concerning Operation:Payback – is it merely vandalism, is it principled civil disobedience? – and exposes the fault lines over the issue within the US Pirate Party, as one "Jay Emerson" clearly states his opposition to Norton's position on the matter, writing that he is "in full support of e-activism."

Given this state of affairs, and the fact that the US Pirate Party website is down, is it unreasonable to wonder whether Anonymous has set its sights on the USPP?


Anonymous said...

operation:payback didn't stop on November 5th. On November 9th they were attacking the US Copyright office. has a complete timeline.

Bradley Hall said...

This is Brad Hall, Records Officer of the USPP. The allegations that Anonymous has set its sights on the USPP and disabled our site is false.

The USPP site is down, yes. But we are told by our web host that the reason was due to them finding some type of malware on the site. We are on top of the situation and the site should be back online before the end of the week.

d.eris said...

Thanks for that update Brad! I wouldn't call the vague speculation above an allegation though. One might also reasonably have wondered whether the down-time was due to Wikileaks-related attacks.