Jan 25, 2012

I write letters - internet censorship

Minister Sherlock et al,

I wrote endless letters to members of the former government expressing my opinion on their lack of governance and thought when I voted in a Labour / Fine Gael government, I could focus on growing my small business and would not have to put so much effort into communicating with ministers. Alas I was wrong. I probably should not be surprised.

However, your move to introduce a Statutory Instrument and respond with legislation to the High Court Judgment in the case of EMI and Others Vs UPC. is misguided to say the least. Last week several international websites blacked themselves out because of the same sort of censorship that you are trying to cast over this country. You are on Twitter so I expect you know about it already. If not, do the research. The worldwide protest paused the political moves for the moment. I am bewildered that a Labour minister for innovation would pull such a backward move, especially someone who appears to be able to use a computer.

Let's look at your press release:

could not grant an injunction to prevent infringement of copyright against an information service provider in the context of a transient communication

Because it is against the law. IRMA has already forced one ISP to ban a peer to peer site which was deemed unlawful in another court in the EU and you wish to open the floodgates and support their tiny complaints at the expense of our economy, knowledge, civil and human rights.

the Government is proposing to introduce a Statutory Instrument, to redress the situation highlighted by Justice Charleton, by providing for injunctions for copyright owners against intermediaries whose services are used to infringe their copyright.

Except that's not the whole truth. It is not only those copyrighted items that your Instrument will block but all the tetrabytes of open source and legal material that are free to share. Will judges decide that Twitter is treasonous? Will Green Tea be taken as libel? I find it difficult to credit that you do not see the problem here.

In granting such injunctions the Courts must take account of Court of Justice of the European Union Judgements. They require that a fair balance be struck between the various fundamental rights protected by the Community legal order and the principle of proportionality. That would include, inter alia, the protection of the fundamental rights of individuals who are affected by such measures, the freedom to conduct a business enjoyed by operators such as Internet Service Providers, the protection of private data and right of freedom of expression and information'.

People said it was a terrible day when the troika forced Ireland to accept reality but I was grateful. At last there would be oversight and the government of the day would not get away with the foreign bank transfers and swiss bank accounts that had been the norm up till then. There was no trust in ministers that saved anglo for their personal investments and those of the grassroots of their party. For the same reasons, I am glad that the EU forces this country to uphold its citizens rights when you and your government would trample all over them just as Fianna Fáil always did.

Putting in place immense censorship to protect a minority of business interests is abhorrent. And if the government will do that for the few, what will it do when people want a change. The police already beat seated peaceful demonstrators bloody and repeated and continuously violate international human rights laws for an oil company. Additional overwhelming powers is the last thing we should be giving to the state.

I thought this government was supposed to be to our country's benefit. That you would work for the good of society but "In the Thick of it" you act like your predecessors, rail at them in an empty Dáil and drink with them afterwards in a subsidised bar. What fools we citizens are to believe you could be different. We voted you in and you played us for fools. You will be known as a shortsighted, reactionary, right wing government if you go ahead with this instrument. Aside from the serious issues of civil liberties and the violation of human rights, you will cost us employment, jobs and investment for a law that will not change anything. Anyone with tech savvy can bypass Eircom's supposed block of The Pirate Bay and anyone with google can find out how. You will make life mildly inconvenient for some and at such a price.

Read some legal documents and rulings before you stunt all technological development and innovation

Mór Rígan
Voter and citizen


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