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Board Nomination - Adrian Farrel

Hi,

I just submitted my nomination for the Board with the statement below. Of course I'm happy (and expect) to be grilled and filleted by you all.

Thanks,
Adrian

===

I've been a member of PPUK since 2010, but have been significantly constrained for non-work activities for the last four years. That's been a bit frustrating as I wanted to give more time, but had no scope to do so. With a recent change in work contracts I have a bit more space and so I am looking to ease myself into becoming more active. The Board of Governors seems like a good place for me to put limited but focused effort to help the party move forward and establish itself as a known quantity in the UK.

I'm a consultant specialising in standardisation of Internet protocols. This puts me at the heart of the community that devises and develops the equipment that is used to build the Internet, and in continual contact with the people who build and operate the networks.

I run my own company and have served on the board of several others. I've also been a trustee of a charitable trust, and am involved in my local community as treasurer of a community association. All this means that I think I am familiar with the way boards work and the day-to-day processes of working with a group of people towards a common goal. For the last four years I have had a senior management position at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) where my job has been a combination of steering, planning, rule-enforcement, and consensus-building in a loose confederation of engineers

In addition to the IETF, I have also been active in the quasi-diplomatic environment of the ITU, and have worked closely with the Internet Society on issues of Internet Governance and extension of the Internet to the developing world. These experiences have fuelled my passion for open access to the Internet and given me competence in addressing government leaders and other non-technical decision-makers on what are significantly technical issues.

On the political front my hottest issues are open access to the Internet, copyright and patent reform, pervasive monitoring, and extension of the Internet to reach the digitally disenfranchised both at home and abroad. These were the issues that brought me to the Pirate Party and they continue to be my main concerns. As a PPUK member I am still working through two things that excite and scare me in equal measure:

- Liquid democracy is a powerful tool for establishing consensus and agreement, and it is a terrible risk. The risk is that, without discussion (and even possibly with it) the consensus might arrive at an idea that is so fundamentally not what I believe that I would need to leave the party. There is, of course, no evidence to say that this might happen within the party, but it gives me heebie jeebies thinking about it. My work in the IETF teaches me that consensus processes can be exceptionally powerful for the development of the best solution, and I think that what we need to build on top of our own processes a way to hold off adopting new ideas until they have matured and shown good body of support.

- As a published author I am jittery about copyright reform. It is badly needed, but some of the proposals made seem to go too far and remove all opportunity to earn a living through writing. Again, I have no evidence that PPUK will get this wrong, but it does make me nervous.

If appointed as a Board member for PPUK I would be looking to achieve stability and growth in the party. Stability is based on application of our rules and processes to support the NEC, candidates, and campaigners, while encouraging the development of changes necessary to facilitate better systems. The growth is necessary at this stage in our development and includes a growth in membership, growth in finances, and growth in visibility: the three are intimately linked.
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Comments

  • edited June 2015
    Welcome to the board (and to the slate), Adrian! You have about four and a half hours to find someone to second you... Edit: Ah, I see you already have someone - sorry to cause any concern...

    I'll start the grilling. The current Pirate proposal for copyright reform, as represented in the 2015 manifesto (p10), is to reduce all copyright terms to 10 years. Do you think that in particular is going too far?
  • edited June 2015
    'As a published author I am jittery about copyright reform. It is badly needed, but some of the proposals made seem to go too far and remove all opportunity to earn a living through writing. Again, I have no evidence that PPUK will get this wrong, but it does make me nervous.'
    You wouldn't be the first to join us and state that concern. IMHO, we need more people like yourself to contribute and ensure we strike the right balance. I'm interested in your answer to George's question and also which of our proposals you feel go too far & why.
  • edited June 2015
    I would share the figures but I'm on my mobile atm.
    For every £18 non-pirates spend, pirates spend £26 or somethingCan't find actual thing so will retract until can find. Have a link instead...

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121126/00590921141/dear-riaa-pirates-buy-more-full-stop-deal-with-it.shtml
  • Replying to George first..

    > I'll start the grilling. The current Pirate proposal for copyright reform,
    > as represented in the 2015 manifesto (p10), is to reduce all copyright
    > terms to 10 years. Do you think that in particular is going too far?

    It feels on the harsh side. My books to date are somewhat academic technical documents. That leaves me with a quandary: I believe it is exceptionally important that the emerging world should have access to technical material at a price that is consistent with the state of their economies; but technical books and academic references have a slow burn -- my return on investment so far comes out at about $11.75 per page written (you can work out the hourly rate of pay). I think I'd like to understand the argument in favour of 10 years a little better before shouting it down.

    But it is also important (to me) to acknowledge that this text got into the manifesto through discussion and agreement by the active parts of the party. If I don't like it, I need to make and win the case for changing it.

    Adrian

  • Drowz0r asked...

    >>I'm a consultant specialising in standardisation of Internet protocols
    >
    > Web standisation is something that needs a lot more promoting.
    > Nothing grinds my gears more than say... a site only coded for IE
    > or something. We could use some of that in our DNA.

    OK. Web is a little higher in the stack than my area of expertise (I'm a routing and switching guy), but I know what you are talking about.

    But you have to be careful about how far you push this. Having a "good practice" standard sounds about right. Having a mandatory standard would be a mistake because people must surely be allowed to make their web sites as pointless and inaccessible as they like.

    The way this has been handled for visual impairment is quite nice: there are codes of best practice endorsed by various experts and charities. People like to conform to these, but they are not compelled to.

    OTOH, if you have a public service web site, then I would be in favour of you being obliged to make your site universally accessible (and don't get me started on javascript!)

    >>I've also been a trustee of a charitable trust
    >
    > Might I ask what the trust is called? Appreciate you probably
    > didn't mention it as you don't want to seem to be promoting/
    > advertising.

    Nah, you're welcome to ask. I just didn't list everything I've ever done in case it bored you.

    The Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod (http://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/) is a festival of singing and dance in the town where I live. It is a one-week long event that has been running for 69 years. Turnover of about £1M, footfall about 35k, tickets now available. I was on the Board of Trustees for three years and remain involved in setting up and managing the festival site each year. (Stood down because of pressure of work back then).

    > Something of a habit I have developed is asking if candidates have been
    > involved in any other parties prior to PPUK?

    Never been a member of a party. Always voted.

    Have been a "political" campaigner in the past. In the 1990s I was very active promoting involvement of politicians in foreign aid. Meetings with MPs letters in the press, etc., etc. But that isn't really party political.

    Adrian
  • - As a published author I am jittery about copyright reform. It is badly needed, but some of the proposals made seem to go too far and remove all opportunity to earn a living through writing. Again, I have no evidence that PPUK will get this wrong, but it does make me nervous.
    I'm a published author too, and I make my daily living writing/derived from writing. I don't see the problems with the proposals, as I've been living by them (or even beyond them) for the last 8-9 years. Our proposals work, in practice, for me. Will they work for everyone, no, but then again neither does the current system.

    The main problem is that anyone that doesn't get the new system to work for them, will just assume the old one would have, and met all their expectations at that, so the loss is all down to the change. Rather than the realistic expectation that 'in the current environment, the product did not get well received by the marketplace.'
  • K'tech's comments actually nail it. What they say is that the current system is broken (I agree) and that the current proposals don't work for everyone (I agree).

    So the longer term aim must be to refine the proposal so that it works for a higher percentage of people.

    (BTW I take the point of writing as an enabler for other follow-on work, and that does soften the blow.)
  • Additionally, public authorities must try harder via the public sector equality duty.
  • Adrian, very excited that you nominated yourself for the PPUK board. (For everyone else and in the spirit of full disclosure I know Adrian, we are friends and current/previous colleagues.)

    A general question: do you think the UK population is apathetic towards personal privacy (digital or otherwise)?

    Something more relevant to your nomination statement: although a fan of consensus-decision making I wonder how effective it would be to PPUk as occasionally it can be seen as a barrier to participation for those unwilling to make the time commitment to follow threads/discussions.
  • Thanks Dan (and thanks for seconding me).

    > do you think the UK population is apathetic towards personal
    > privacy (digital or otherwise)?

    The short questions are the worst :-(

    I'm not sure "apathetic" is the right word. "Ill-informed" might be better. But also "unaware of history", "frightened by scaremongering politicians", and "not aware of what might really be happening." All these aspects play into the approach exemplified by the "Snowden has blood on his hands" style of briefing.

    It's curious how there are so many efforts to teach early school-age children about the dangers of putting information or photos onto the web. That sort of campaign catches the imagination, but it is harder to get people to realise that even if they have nothing to hide, they still have something to fear. Understanding that point needs some mixture of healthy paranoia, a grasp of the technology and techniques involved, and knowledge of how correlation will frequently be presumed to imply causation.

    It is worth sparing some sympathy for the civil servants (and even politicians) tasked with keeping us safe. For them, even the smallest potential incident can result in ridicule in the press and a carpeting. Should a much larger atrocity take place, they know that they will be blamed and that heads will roll. Probably just as significant, they will feel personal responsibility and suffer the guilt of someone who did not prevent what might have been preventable deaths. Under those circumstances it is entirely reasonable that there is a very strong push for all sorts of measures (from ID cards to pervasive monitoring), but the missing component lies in the counter-weight that we expect from our politicians - the trade between freedom and security.

    I imagine that when offensive state apparatus is set up, it is not normally specifically for the oppression of the population, but to keep people safe from particular threats or perceived threats. But the line is so easily drawn in the wrong place (witness recent suggestions in Australia that suspected Islamic radicals should been banned from having Internet access). The two principles of independent (and apolitical) oversight of probable cause, and innocent until proven guilty go by the board when the government is hung up on the single track of keeping control because anything else is too risky.

    I'm fairly sure that if we were able to make a link between pervasive monitoring and cruelty to dogs we could really get a movement going.

    There is an age thing going on as well. I had a long chat with someone from Sony about a year ago on the subject of privacy. He was investigating to what level privacy could be traded for enhanced gaming experiences. His claim was that there were a number of bands:
    - young children who didn't know any better
    - slightly older children who had been educated to high
    levels of privacy
    - teenagers who either didn't care, or valued the tools too
    highly (such as: show me where all my friends are at the
    moment)
    - young people who believe the world is out to get them
    and want to hide from it
    - older people who have started to accumulate wealth and
    want to keep it private
    - middle aged people who are scared and will sacrifice
    anything for safety
    - old people who don't know any better

    Fundamental to my argument in the IETF is the thought that you cannot distinguish between your friendly government and organised crime. If someone is snooping on you then they can use that information in their own way, and rest assured that organised crime is considerably better funded than the UK secret service. So the fundamental approach of Internet users must be to assume that pervasive monitoring is a fact and that they must take responsibility for protecting their own data.

    The chances of us rolling back the frontiers and getting secret governmental agencies to stop monitoring us seem remote. We should pursue this with vigour, but we must also assume that spy organisations break the laws - to some extent that is what they are created to do. So we need to act on top of that and, in particular, not get sucked in to that debate to the exclusion of other measures (such as cheap and easy end-to-end security) that is necessary to protect our own privacy.

    > although a fan of consensus-decision making I wonder how
    > effective it would be to PPUk as occasionally it can be seen as
    > a barrier to participation for those unwilling to make the time
    > commitment to follow threads/discussions

    I don't see the alternative. If you leave the policy to the NEC to hand down on stone tablets then you have participation only by those with a much larger commitment, and you disenfranchise (except through period elections) the rest of the membership. If you determine policy at annual conferences the barrier moves to those who cannot block out a week and those who cannot travel. So our approach spreads the policy-making over a broader period of time, makes participation in the process asynchronous, and gives an opportunity for a "last chance" review after the period of debate.

    For those unfamiliar with the IETF, this is very similar to the decision-making process used there. The difference (and the bit that worries me) is that we run some small risk of late-breaking and un-debated ideas becoming policy. The small change that I would like to consider is a way to cross-check that the wider party has thought about all of the policies and decided that they are agreeable. In the case where a small number (say four) people are vociferously in favour of a policy and another small number (say three) are strongly opposed, I would hope that we take precautions against the majority shrugging and saying "whatever" - this form of non-agreement needs to be recognised for what it is.
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