Thursday, September 07, 2006

Digital Bookends for Swedish Election Campaign

On the 17th September Sweden is going to the polls for local, province and national governments. It has been an interesting election campaign. One that did not really build up momentum (from my - foreigner - perspective) until the nation came back from summer holidays in August. But since then it has been at times frantic, that is in a relative sense.
Something that I have found very interesting are the 'digital bookends' that frame the election campaign:
On 31st May 2006 50 members of the Swedish National Criminal Police raided and confiscated the property of the Pirate Bay and the Pirate Bureau in Göteborg/Gothenberg. This made headlines in the Swedish press and seem to boost the popularity of the Pirate Party which is standing many candidates in the coming election. Last week, just over one week before the election, it emerged that members of the Swedish Folk Party Liberal had somehow gained access to the internal computer network of the ruling Social Democrat party. Over a period of months they had access to the information therein.
The place of these two events in history is yet to be established. They both concern rights of access to information. They both focus on intellectual property being equated with physical property. Issues of privacy are as well being contested. When the government attempted to close down the Pirate Bay they claimed right of access to the materials archived there. When the same governing party discovered that it's database was being accessed without their permission they reported the matter to the police (and the media). Property rights are being asserted in both cases.

Elections in Australia can verge on the hysterical at times. I remember attending the last rally staged by John Hewson in Brisbane for the 1993 Federal election and as he spoke in King George Square punches were being thrown and fights breaking out in the crowd between government and opposition supporters . Things are more peaceful in Sweden and much more technological.

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