“This is a movement for the freedom of the Internet and technology”, says the fugitive millionaire – who cannot stand for election in New Zealand himself
Kim Dotcom, a German entrepreneur wanted by the US authorities for copyright infringement and money laundering in connection with his Megaupload venture, has launched a political party in New Zealand. However, not being a citizen, he cannot stand as one of the candidates.
The Internet Party manifesto says it will fight for for net neutrality, faster broadband and online privacy, and plans to contest the next parliamentary election in September.
Dotcom came to prominence as the founder of cloud-based file hosting service Megaupload which was shut down by New Zealand authorities in January 2012 on behalf of the US Department of Justice. He is accused of illegally earning around $175 million through the website, while causing losses of at least $500 million for the US entertainment industry.
The entrepreneur continues to battle extradition, with the next hearing scheduled for June. If convicted in the US, he faces a sentence of up to 20 years.
The Dotcom Party
Dotcom has never made a secret of his political ambitions. After stepping down as the director of Mega in September 2013 and previewing an online music service called Baboom in January, the fugitive millionaire got to work on the Internet Party, all this while out on bail.
The Internet Party promises to enable faster, cheaper Internet connections, reform copyright legislation and boost the country’s technology sector through incentives and benefits. It also plans to introduce a New Zealand-sponsored digital currency similar to Bitcoin, and get out of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence agreement, which the country shares with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
The Party needed 500 paying members to run for the elections, and achieved this goal in seven hours. Registration was open through the website and a specially developed mobile app. “The Internet Party app is symbolic of everything the Internet Party represents,” said Dotcom. “We’re a breath of fresh air, and a dose of common sense, for a tired and adversarial political system that has lost touch with modern New Zealand and the Internet generation.”
The launch didn’t go without issues – earlier this week Dotcom admitted he owned a signed first edition of Mein Kampf, and a local news publication accused him of sympathising with the Nazis.
The entrepreneur told the New Zealand Herald that the allegations were a ‘smear campaign’ organised by political rivals. He explained that he was a collector, and also owned items that had belonged to Churchill and Stalin.
To become a part of the next government, the Internet Party needs to win an electoral seat or secure five percent of the vote – which is not that unlikely, given Dotcom’s popularity in the country and his engagement with the public.
Arrgh! How much do you know about online piracy? Take our quiz!