Yesterday SOPA Ireland, a law the power for judges to force Internet Service Providers to block websites took effect. The law follows the example of many other countries who similarly block websites for various reasons including child porn, phishing and copyright infringement. Inevitably these black lists are kept secret and when they are leaked to the public they inevitably contain web sites with perceivable legitimate reason for being on the blacklist.
So while this is about copyright today, it reduces our internet freedom, future generations of Irish men and women will likely never come to expect the same freedom on the internet that we enjoy today.
Today Sean Sherlock, the minister responsible for it’s introduction called for those opposed to copyright law to call off the dogs. I’m opposed to copyright law and the most I’ve ever done in relation to Irish SOPA is go to a protest. Maybe he could clarify what he meant?
He mentioned that people shouldn’t refer to this as the Irish version of SOPA, I don’t understand his point of view, SOPA = Stop Online Piracy Act, the Irish law is designed to stop online piracy by blocking websites, so is SOPA. What exactly makes these laws different except their wording?
He also says if we don’t call off the dogs the public consultation won’t lead to any changes to the law. This is somewhat hilarious, first of all you should have a public consultation before you pass the law, secondly whether the information gained from a public consultation is used shouldn’t be conditional on the whole population of Ireland treating you in a polite manner (this probably wasn’t what he meant but he was vague enough for me to interpret it as such) and thirdly no one aside from corporations like Google who have expressed their concern about this law should have any hope in gaining anything from a public consultation.
Just take the example of the report of the “Gender Recognition Advisory Group” which had a public consultation with all the stakeholders, after which they promptly created a carbon copy of the British legislation. The result being that should a law be written on the basis of this report it will mean that in order for a married person to be recognized in their new gender by the state they would have to separate from their partner for 2 years and then get a divorce. Even if they were willing to go through that but still loved their partner they would have to lie in court when they would have to say that the marriage is irreconcilable. The Transgender Equality Network pointed this out during the consultation but were ignored.
Not only that but this has been years in the making, each government after the next delaying the process as much as possible because the fact is that governments have no interest in citizens being involved in the process anymore than parents have in letting their children decide their own bed time.