Rick Falkvinge at 3 June 2006 pirate demonstration in Sweden
|Born||Dick Greger Augustsson
21 January 1972
|Occupation||IT entrepreneur, politician|
|Political party||Pirate Party|
Rickard ”Rick” Falkvinge (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈfalkˈviŋe]), born Dick Augustsson on 21 January 1972 in Gothenburg, is a Swedish IT entrepreneur known as the founder and first party leader of the Swedish Pirate Party. He is currently a political evangelist with the party, spreading the ideas across the world. He resides in Sollentuna north of Stockholm.
Rick 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 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.
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 copyparties, where people brought their computer and a box of disks, and copied files between one another: images, games, texts, programs.
Falkvinge created his first company, Infoteknik (literally Infotechnology), in 1988 at the age of 16. The inefficiency in administrative business tasks irritated him, and he wanted to digitize the world. Between 1990 and 1995, he ran a BBS aimed at software developers writing in C and C++. This BBS was connected to FidoNet.
In 1992 and 1993, he did his Army conscription service at the Göta Signal Battalion in Karlsborg as a conscript officer. In the fall of 1993, he enrolled for a Master's degree in Engineering Physics at Chalmers University of Technology. He dropped out in 1995 without a degree.
In 1994 to 1998, he was active as an entrepreneur with five employees in software development in Gothenburg, Kalmar and Strömsund. In 1998, he closed his business and moved to Sollentuna just north of Stockholm and took employment at a company named Sendit. Shortly thereafter, it was bought out by Microsoft, where he became a project manager. He stayed there until Microsoft closed that department on July 1, 2002. After that, he held various jobs until the start of 2006, notably as development manager at a smaller development firm, Cypak.
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.
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 Pirate Bureau, which was not affiliated with any party. On December 15, 2005, Falkvinge registered the domain name piratpartiet.se (literally The Pirate Party), and on January 1, 2006, the party's web site was launched through a message on a 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 January 2, 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.
This was the first Pirate Party in today's international movement of more than 40 Pirate Parties.
Following the raid on The Pirate Bay on May 31, 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.
In the general elections in 2006, the Pirate Party achieved 0,63 per cent. 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.
On December 29, 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.
He led the Pirate Party while living off of donations from supporters for 18 months, until he was hired by the European Parliament following entry.
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. Media described the election night party as ecstatic as the Pirate Party became the largest party by far for voters under 30, with 25% of those votes.
Falkvinge called this success a re-ignition for the civil liberties fight in Europe and the world.
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. The threshold for entry is 4.0%. This support did not materialize in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
During the election campaign of 2009, Falkvinge announced privately on Facebook that as he was touring the country, he was looking for women to sleep with while on the campaign trail. This was picked up by tabloids and blogs and caused a controversy.
In the launch of the party's election manifesto in 2010, Falkvinge caused a controversy by stating that possession of child pornography should be legal, and that the party wanted to repeal current legislation on the topic. The Swedish Union of Journalists openly and immediately proclaimed their support for this stance. Despite this, the stance created internal controversy. Falkvinge backed from the position.
On January 1, 2011, five years after the party's foundation, Falkvinge announced that he was stepping down as party leader, and that deputy party leader Anna Troberg would step into the role. This announcement was done during a live broadcast.
Falkvinge is currently working as a political evangelist in the Pirate Party and pirate movement at large, traveling to speak about the ideas and concepts.
In May 2011, he started exploring bitcoin and its effects on society's economy and was quoted by the Swedish Public Service Television (SVT) as a reference in this context.
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 pick-up artistry.
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 magazine.
Falkvinge has given presentations on his ideas in cities "from Aarhus to Zurich". Notable appearances include Stanford Law School, Google, O'Reilly Open Source Convention and TheNextWeb.
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 May 31, 2006. At the time, The Pirate Bay had no formal connections to the party.
He also appears in the documentary Steal This Film.
Falkvinge lives in Sollentuna, a suburb north of Stockholm. He is openly polyamorous. Personal interests include whisky, cooking and motorcycles, and he spends his summers in a cabin on Björkö, an island just off Gothenburg.
He likes speeding and has called it a national sport in Sweden.
He is not married and has no children.
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