Rick Falkvinge

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Rick Falkvinge (born Dick Greger Augustsson on 21 January 1972) is a Swedish information technology entrepreneur and founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. He is currently a political evangelist with the party, spreading the ideas across the world

Youth and early career[edit]

Falkvinge grew up in Ruddalen, Gothenburg, and studied Natural Sciences at Göteborgs Högre Samskola. During his high school years, he was active in Moderat Skolungdom and Moderata Ungdomsförbundet, the youth wings of the Moderate Party Moderaterna party in Sweden. His passion for technology was visible at an early age, and he would spend time as a toddler just pressing doorbell buttons in electronics stores

His first computer was a Commodore VIC-20, where he wasn't content just pressing its buttons, but also opened it up and took it apart, to study its inner workings. He learned how to disable the system calls, and learned all relevant memory positions. His interest for computers as a technological phenomenon was as large as his fascination for the possibility of using computers as tools. He has likened this to amateur radio enthusiasts and their interest for the technology and its applications alike.ref name=piraterna /

His VIC-20 would soon be replaced by a Commodore 64, the most sold computer model ever. He started swapping files early, and continued the mixtape tradition with his friends, only using disks instead. He started attending copypartycopyparties, where people brought their computer and a box of disks, and copied files between one another: images, games, texts, programs.ref name=piraterna /

Falkvinge created his first company, Infoteknik (literally Infotechnology), in 1988 at the age of 16

In 1994 to 1998, he was active as an entrepreneur with five employees in software development in Gothenburg, Kalmar and Strömsund.

Having grown tired of snide remarks about his first name Dick, and above all what he calls the moralism among systems developers who would make it impossible for him to even use his real name online, he changed his first name in 2004 from Dick to Rickard, with just Rick for short. As he changed his first name, he also changed his last name from Augustsson to the current Falkvinge (literally Falconwing). He wanted a unique last name describing his character. He has always been fascinated by birds, and thinks that large raptors symbolize pride, freedom, and vision

The Pirate Party[edit]

Pirate Party (Sweden)

In the Fall of 2005, Rick Falkvinge started to consider creating a political party focused on the issues of file sharing, copyright, and patents. The dominating Swedish organization in the copyright debate at this time was the PiratbyrånPirate Bureau, which was not affiliated with any party. On 16 December 2005, Falkvinge registered the domain name piratpartiet.se (literally The Pirate Party), and on 1 January 2006, the party's web site was launched through a message on a Direct Connect (file sharing)Direct Connect hub, signaling the start of the petition to register a new political party in Sweden

According to the party, the site got three million hits in the first two days and in the morning of 2 January, the newspaper Dagens Industri published a notice about the initiative, followed by a longer article in the tabloid Aftonbladet after lunch. Falkvinge took out a large bank loan, quit his job at Cypak, and started working with building the Pirate Party full-time

Raid against The Pirate Bay[edit]

The Pirate Bay raid

Following the raid on The Pirate Bay on 31 May 2006, Falkvinge mobilized every part of the Pirate Party, and in the protests that followed on June 3, he held his first widely translated and acclaimed speech, "Nothing new under the Sun".

In the week that followed the raid, Falkvinge was on the TV news daily, and Pirate Party membership tripled from 2,200 to 6,600.

General elections in 2006[edit]

mainSwedish general election, 2006

In the general elections in 2006, the Pirate Party achieved 0.63%. Falkvinge was noticeably downcast when the exit polls arrived during the election night party, but promised the gathered people that this would not be the end of the fight

One number that gave a bit of hope was that the mock-up school elections gave the Pirate Party 4.5%, showing that the party had a potential future.refcite booklast1=Rydellfirst1=Anderslast2=Sundbergfirst2=Samtitle=Piraterna - historien on The Pirate Bay, Piratpartiet och Piratbyrån (Pocket)year=2009publisher=Ordfront Pocketpage=153language=sv/ref

Economic hardship[edit]

On 29 December 2008, Falkvinge published a letter on his blog, stating that he was no longer able to pay his rent as the bank loan he had used to cover his work for the Pirate Party had run out, and that he had run out of additional credit. At the time, the Pirate Party did not have a strong enough economy to hire someone, and therefore, he asked the members of the party to donate money to him.refcite weblast=Falkvingefirst=Ricktitle=En ovanlig begäranurl=https://falkvinge.net/2008/12/29/en-ovanlig-begaran/work=falkvinge.netaccess-date=December 29, 2008date=December 29, 2008language=sv/ref

He led the Pirate Party while living off of donations and charity from supporters for 18 months,ref name=lever-pa-att-tigga-2009cite newslast=Sjölundfirst=Jilltitle=Lever på att tiggaurl=http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/euvalet/article11855131.abnewspaper=Aftonbladetlanguage=sv/ref until he was hired by the European Parliament following entry.refcite newslast=Kerpnerfirst=Joachimtitle=Nu anställer han sig självurl=http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article5432946.abaccess-date=30 May 2011newspaper=Aftonbladetdate=26 June 2009language=sv/ref

Success in European Elections[edit]

mainEuropean Parliament election, 2009 (Sweden)

The success in the European Elections in 2009, where the Pirate Party achieved 7.13% under his leadership, catapulted Falkvinge and the top candidate Christian Engström onto every newspaper front page in the country, as well as making the top news on CNN, headlines on BBC, Reuters and others.refcite booklast1=Rydellfirst1=Anderslast2=Sundbergfirst2=Samtitle=Piraterna - historien on The Pirate Bay, Piratpartiet och Piratbyrån (Pocket)year=2009publisher=Ordfront Pocketpage=246language=sv/ref Media described the election night party as ecstaticref name=pirat-party-2009cite newslast=Kerpnerfirst=Joachimtitle=Pirat-partyurl=http://aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article5333796.abaccess-date=30 May 2011newspaper=Aftonbladetdate=8 June 2009language=sv/ref as the Pirate Party became the largest party by far for voters under 30, with 25% of those votes.refcite newstitle=Ett svenskare Europavalurl=http://www.scb.se/Pages/PressRelease____296193.aspxaccess-date=30 May 2011newspaper=Statistiska Centralbyråndate=22 June 2010language=svurl-status=deadarchive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20101231010949/http://www.scb.se/Pages/PressRelease____296193.aspxarchive-date=31 December 2010/ref

Falkvinge called this success a re-ignition for the civil liberties fight in Europe and the world.ref name=pirat-party-2009 /

Not long after the European Elections, media predicted that the Pirate Party was also on its way into Swedish Parliament, as they got 3.9% support in a poll.refcite newslast=Mellinfirst=Lenatitle=Piraterna på väg att segla in i riksdagenurl=http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/kolumnister/lenamellin/article11886686.abaccess-date=30 May 2011newspaper=Aftonbladetdate=23 June 2009language=sv/ref The threshold for entry is 4.0%. This support did not materialize in the 2010 Swedish general election2010 parliamentary elections.

Controversies[edit]

In the launch of the party's election manifesto in 2010, Falkvinge caused a controversy by stating that freedom of speech and freedom of the press should take precedence over the current ban on possession of drawings potentially depicting child pornography, and that the party wanted to repeal current legislation on the topic.refcite newslast=Johanssonfirst=Birgittatitle=Piratpartiet vill tillåta innehav av barnporrurl=http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=3899644access-date=August 5, 2010newspaper=Sveriges Radiodate=August 5, 2010language=sv/ref This followed a Swedish court case where a manga researcher and translator was indicted for possession of a handful of drawings as part of a very large manga collection. The Swedish Union of Journalists openly and immediately proclaimed their support for this stance, and the irrationality of a law which persecuted individuals of a crime with no victim.refcite weblast=Lindblom Hulthén first=Agnetha title=Barnporrlagen är censur url=http://journalisten.se/nyheter/lindblom-hulthen-barnporrlagen-ar-censur work=Journalisten access-date=May 12, 2011 language=sv date=August 6, 2010 url-status=dead archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20101211043440/http://www.journalisten.se/artikel/24124/journalistfoerbundets-ordfoerande-barnporrlagen-aer-censur archive-date=December 11, 2010 /ref Despite this, the stance created internal controversy in the Pirate Party and Falkvinge initially backed away from his position,refcite newslast=Johanssonfirst=Birgittatitle=Falkvinge: "Konstaterat att vi hade fel"url=http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=3900433access-date=May 12, 2011newspaper=Sveriges Radiodate=August 6, 2010language=sv/ref before reiterating it in 2012.refcite weblast=Falkvingefirst=Rickardtitle=Three Reasons Possession Of Child Porn Must Be Re-Legalized In The Coming Decadeurl=https://falkvinge.net/2012/09/07/three-reasons-child-porn-must-be-re-legalized-in-the-coming-decade/access-date=15 September 2012/ref

Stepping down as party leader[edit]

On 1 January 2011, five years after the party's foundation, Falkvinge announced that he was stepping down as party leader,ref name=stepdown-2011 / and that deputy party leader Anna Troberg would step into the role. This announcement was done during a live broadcast.refcite webtitle=Pirate Party 5-year anniversary broadcasturl=http://bambuser.com/channel/Piratpartiet/broadcast/1297679publisher=Bambuseraccess-date=30 May 2011language=svurl-status=deadarchive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20111005191926/http://bambuser.com/channel/Piratpartiet/broadcast/1297679 archive-date=5 October 2011/ref

Current career[edit]

Falkvinge works as a political evangelist in the Pirate Party and pirate movement at large, traveling to speak about the ideas and concepts.ref name=stepdown-2011 /

In May 2011, he started exploring bitcoin and its effects on society's economyrefcite weblast=Falkvingefirst=Ricktitle=The Information Policy Case For Flat Tax, Basic Incomeurl=https://falkvinge.net/2011/05/19/the-information-policy-case-for-flat-tax-and-basic-income/publisher=Falkvinge on Infopolicyaccess-date=28 May 2011/ref and was quoted by the Swedish Public Service Television (Sveriges TelevisionSVT) as a reference in this context.refcite newslast=Biefirst=Nanoktitle=Ny piratvaluta kan hota finanssystemenurl=http://svt.se/2.22584/1.2439316/ny_piratvaluta_kan_hota_finanssystemenaccess-date=28 May 2011newspaper=SVTdate=28 May 2011language=svurl-status=deadarchive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20110530155031/http://svt.se/2.22584/1.2439316/ny_piratvaluta_kan_hota_finanssystemenarchive-date=30 May 2011/ref

In February 2016, it was announced that Falkvinge had accepted a full-time role as head of privacy for Private Internet Access, a US-based personal VPN service.refcite webtitle=Private Internet Access and Digital Rights Activism Posturl=https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/forum/discussion/21061/private-internet-access-and-digital-rights-activism-postwebsite=Private Internet Accessaccess-date=31 May 2016/ref

Rick is heavily involved with Bitcoin Cash, a Hardfork of Bitcoin as of Aug 1, 2017.refcite weblast1=Falkvingefirst1=Ricktitle=Official Statement from the CEO of Bitcoin Cashurl=https://falkvinge.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/letter-from-the-ceo.pdfaccess-date=27 February 2018/ref

Leadership style[edit]

Peter Santesson, Ph.D. in Political Sciences, has analyzed Falkvinge's leadership style and found it unique in Swedish politics. Falkvinge is never late to admit a mistake, and openly displays his weaknesses, acting to diminish his own authority. Among other things, Santesson refers to the episode where Falkvinge said he was flat broke and asked for donations, something that no other politician has attempted and much less succeeded with. Santesson argues that this personality, where Falkvinge takes responsibility for mistakes and admits them immediately without reservation, makes Falkvinge appear even more charismatic. Santesson compares it to techniques used in Pickup artistpick-up artistry.refcite journallast=Santessonfirst=Petertitle=Falkvinge som påfågeljournal=Neodate=July 2009issue=#4, 2009page=67language=sv/ref

In 2013, Rick Falkvinge wrote a book called Swarmwise: The Tactical Manual to Changing the World,refhttp://falkvinge.net/2013/02/14/swarmwise-the-tactical-manual-to-changing-the-world-chapter-one/ Swarmwise - The Tactical Manual To Changing The World. Chapter One. - Falkvinge on Infopolicy. Falkvinge.net (2013-02-14). Retrieved on 2013-10-30./ref in which he describes a new kind of organization that he built in the Swedish Pirate Party, and the role of leadership in this organization.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2012, TIME Magazine shortlisted Falkvinge as one of the world's most influential people, and The Guardian listed Falkvinge as one of the world's Top 20 Internet Freedom Fighters.

In 2011, The magazine Foreign Policy named Falkvinge as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.

Falkvinge was awarded the Swedish Guldmusen award as IT person of the year 2010, citing his successes in bringing the Net and its consequences to the political table.

He has been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in Sweden by Fokus.

Appearances[edit]

Falkvinge has given presentations on his ideas in cities "from Aarhus to Zurich". Notable appearances include Stanford Law School, Presentation at Stanford Law School, Presentation at Google Tech Talk and Presentation at O'Reilly Open Source Convention. The Danish documentary Good Copy Bad Copy contains an interview with Falkvinge explaining how the Pirate Party grew as a result of the raid against The Pirate Bay on 31 May 2006. At the time, The Pirate Bay had no formal connections to the party.

He also appears in the documentary Steal This Film and TPB AFK.

Personal life[edit]

Falkvinge lives in Sollentuna MunicipalitySollentuna, a suburb north of Stockholm. His personal interests include whisky, cooking, and motorcycles. He spends his summers in a cabin on Bohus-BjörköBjörkö, an island just off Gothenburg.

He likes speeding and has called it a national sport in Sweden.

He has no children and is not married but openly polyamorypolyamorous, which still precludes marriage for legal reasons as of April 2014.