Net neutrality and censorship of the internet have long been big issues in America and other countries, but for a long time Ireland has been happy to enjoy a very open approach to the internet. However this may be changing and we have to act now before the wheels are set in motion and we are no longer in control of what we can read.
A recent case brought against Eircom by the IRMA has reached an out-of-court settlement as reported by www.digitalrights.ie:
The internet is abuzz (Irish Times | EFF | ars technica | Boing Boing) with the news that Eircom and the record labels have reached an out of court settlement in which Eircom has agreed to implement a â€œthree strikesâ€ regime for disconnecting people accused of filesharing.
Digital Rights Ireland goes on to point out why they feel this system is unreliable, unduly secret, undemocratic, disproportionate, and that it will affect innocent third parties. If you’re interested in keeping track of your rights on the internet, this article definitely falls into the class of recommended reading.
It gets worse
Whilst a three strikes system is considered by some to be a better result than the filtering system which IRMA wanted Eircom to implement, there seem to be other things going on which are even more alarming. The Sunday Business Post reports (bold emphasis added by me):
IRMA, which represents major music groups EMI, Sony-BMG, Warner and Universal, is to begin compiling lists of websites that it claims are damaging its business. It will then apply for a court order, requiring Eircom and other internet providers to block access to these sites.
Under the terms of an agreement between Eircom and Irma, Eircom will not oppose any court application, meaning that the orders will be automatically granted. A spokesman for Eircom confirmed that Eircom â€˜â€˜will not oppose any application [Irma] may make seeking the blocking of access from their networkâ€™â€™ to blacklisted websites.
Whilst some will argue that Torrent websites are used for illegal sharing of copyrighted material, they are also heavily used for completely legal and valid sharing of huge numbers of files, open-source operating systems, and other software.
Damien Mulley points out, once this starts – where does it stop?
So first they’ll start with the Pirate Bay. Then comes Mininova, IsoHunt, then comes YouTube (they have dodgy stuff, right?), how long before we have Boards.ie because someone quoted a newspaper article or a section of a book? And don’t think they’ll stop there too, any site that links to The Pirate Bay and the others on the hate list will probably be added to the list too. Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
This is bad on many accounts. 99% of people are being punished for what a tiny percentage of people are doing. Sometimes this can be justified. Handgun bans etc. I don’t think a website is a loaded weapon though.
There’s talk of a “Save the Internet” campaign starting up in Ireland, and we’ll certainly be in full support of it here at Pixelapes. We’ll keep you posted with any other news we come across.