The privatization of censorship (an Irish SOPA)
The privatization of censorship (an Irish SOPA)
Ireland has in its past, had a time of censorship which was rightfully overturned by right thinking politicians. In those more enlightened times certain politicians eventually saw the ultimate futility of censoring James Joyce and hacking feature films to death..
Eamonn Wallace, Chairman of IrelandOffline said : “under the bullying of the Content Oligopoly we propose to hand over censorship and public policy to private companies. The probable outcome to this is that the likes of IRMA will now be given control over the websites that Irish people can visit and view.”
Wallace continued : “Those videos of your two year old singing “Happy Birthday” will now be targeted as copyright infringement because Happy Birthday is still in copyright and ditty sung by a 2 year old can grossly infringe that copyright in the eyes of a Content Oligopolist.”
Wallace added “All of this is to be sneaked through, without debate, by Ministerial Order to appease the content companies and their supposed fight against piracy. No discussion in the Dail, no interaction with consumer groups, nothing; just a stroke of a Ministerial pen. This is the low level that our democracy has sunk to. This is redolent of dictatorships of the past.
The exact wording of the legislation hasn’t been shared with us and is being produced in secret, and with the probable helpful assistance of the Content Oligopoly, in the hope that the Irish people will neither understand nor care until it is too late. Even then all considerations of Public Policy making will be kicked to touch, into the courts where instead judges will decide on Public Policy. We could then compare ourselves to the extreme situation that pertains in Belarus where browsing all foreign websites is illegal. This is the slippery slope to corporate censorship. There are no rights of appeal conferred on websites that are to be blocked expect an extremely expensive visit to the High Court with all its attendant exorbitant costs. Innovation on the Internet must be allowed to flourish without hindrance, for the good of the country”
Wallace went on to say “Irish politicians seem to misunderstand the basic concepts of the Internet. The Minister responsible for this can of technical worms is Sean Sherlock TD Minister of State in the Department Of Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation. Blocking sites on the Internet is hardly an innovative step.
Politicians just hear “our business is suffering” from entertainment industry lobbyists so “something has to be done” no matter what the damage to the sensitive digital economy is. It’s the law of unintended consequences at work. We risk destroying our freedoms and our healthy digital environment, possibly jeopardising the investment from companies like Google, Facebook Amazon, Ebay, Paypal and Twitter, just to keep some dying business that is trying to lash out at what it perceives as doing damage to it’s interests. These Internet companies will be expected to police postings on their websites in case of some alleged “copyright” infringement otherwise they may find their websites blocked by Irish courts and Irish consumers locked out of the Digital world. Risking inward investment should be a red-line issue just like our corporation tax.
Copyright industries are demanding, through the courts, compensation and a bailout from the government and the citizens of Ireland for the failure of their historical monopoly.This is a bizarre situation“
This regressive legislation will damage current efforts to implement a secure Domain Name Service and damage confidence in the security of the Internet leading to damage to consumers computers due to malware and viruses.
As a measure, it is flawed, as any non technical people do not understand the complexity of the Internet and how any possible enacted measures can be trivially evaded.
This, in all likelihood, is illegal and beyond the Minister’s powers, as it doesn’t seem to take into account the Sabam v. Scarlet jugement which clearly states:
“[filtering] could potentially undermine freedom of information since that system might not distinguish adequately between unlawful content and lawful content, with the result that its introduction could lead to the blocking of lawful communications. Indeed, it is not contested that the reply to the question whether a transmission is lawful also depends on the application of statutory exceptions to copyright which vary from one Member State to another. Moreover, in some Member States certain works fall within the public domain or can be posted online free of charge by the authors concerned. “
Wallace went on to say “The Internet is our digital highway and represents the single most important economic, social, and cultural communications tool available to us, we don’t put blocks on the roads to different cities because crime might happen there, indeed not we address the real issue that of crime itself. We accept that artists need to be compensated for their works but the Internet is not the plaything of the Content Oligarchy.
This is a most undemocratic and regressive step, endangering Ireland’s healthy digital economy, jeopardizing inward investment all to prop up a dying business model. It has nothing to do with what consumers want and everything to do with protecting a business based on album sales, vinyl and CDs. Welcome to the 21st century.”