The German Pirate Party may not have fared quite as well as its Swedish colleagues in the recent European election, but it still has something to boast about: Joerg Tauss, who has been in the parliament for the Social Democrats (SPD) since 1994, declared today that he's switching his affiliation to the Pirate Party. That makes Germany the first country with a pirate as a member of parliament.

Tauss has been one of the most knowledgeable experts on IT policy in the German parliament. He served as the spokesperson for the SPD's education and science working group and was a founding member of the party's online-only "virtual local chapter."

Tauss left the Social Democrats after the party helped to pass a law mandating ISPs to block a number of websites with DNS block lists. The law aims to stop child porn, but Tauss and other critics have argued that it's the first step towards an extensive Internet censorship regimen. These fears are not unfounded: Conservative politicians have repeatedly raised the idea to also censor websites distributing violent video games, and the entertainment industry has been lobbying to block the Pirate Bay and other file sharing sites.

Tauss' membership will definitely give the German Pirate Party some additional publicity - but it may not all be good press. The politician found himself in the spotlight in March when police raided his offices and private residence in search for child porn. Tauss later admitted that the police found illegal child porn during these raids, but has since maintained that he just wanted to familiarize himself with the inner workings of this scene and that he tried to infiltrate and take down a child porn distribution group. The case against Tauss is ongoing.

The whole affair got mixed reactions from Germany's Internet activists. Some have called his behavior stupid at best. Others however have wondered about the curious timing between the raid and the new censorship bill, which could have gotten much more scrutiny with Tauss uncompromised.

Germany's next federal election is at the end of September. Joerg Tauss has already announced that he won't run for office again. The German Pirate Party will have to fight to keep his seat after Tauss leaves: It only won 0.9 percent of the vote in the EU elections. It needs at least five percent in the federal election to send representatives to Berlin.

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