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SOPA Ireland has been signed

Posted on February 29th, 2012

Sean Sherlock confirmed earlier today that the controversial statutory instrument known as “SOPA Ireland” has been signed into law despite huge opposition from members of the public and those in the web industry.

Making the announcement, Sherlock said:

“I believe that in Ireland we must build on our very substantial achievements in the creative and digital media industry, and become a model of international best practice for innovation in this area. Ireland is home to some of the world’s most innovative Internet companies, and we are determined to grow our reputation as a location where smart people and smart companies can innovate in this fast-moving arena.”

The junior minister also “acknowledged the desire of some interested parties that it [the SI] be more detailed and more prescriptive”.

More than 80,000 people signed a petition opposing the SI on the Stop SOPA Ireland website. Responding to the announcement, Stop SOPA Ireland released a statement this evening saying that the decision by Sherlock to continue on regardless of the public’s opposition as “not intelligent or modern governance” and  said that we can “expect the music industry to immediately start seeking injunctions against ISPs to block access to parts of the internet”.

It is a bad decision because the law is being enacted without a vote of the Oireachtas. This law will potentially impact on the freedoms to do business and to free expression of every company and citizen in the country. The need for primary legislation has never been clearer.

The legislature has been treated with double contempt – firstly by being denied a chance to scrutinise and vote on the law and secondly by the Government’s staging of a debate where the opposition made honest efforts to constructively engage with the law, only to be told in the final seconds that nothing they had said was going to make any difference anyway.

It is a bad decision because there was an alternative wording of a Statutory Instrument  proposed by Catherine Murphy TD and Stephen Donnelly TD which the Minister accepted met all his own policy requirements arising from the AG’s advice, made explicit the rights affirmed by the ECJ caselaw and allowed two years for primary legislation to be drafted. But despite all this, he wilfully stuck to his own flawed legislation. This is not intelligent or modern governance.  Read the full statement on

Last night Eric Schmidt warned against web censorship. Schmidt, the CEO of Google (who employ more than two thousand people in Ireland) said  “We need to act now to avoid the rise of this digital caste system.” Speaking at the Mobile World Congress he continued on, pointing at how the web acts as a watchdog. “Technology is a leveler. The weak will be made strong, and those with nothing will have something.”

Four of the major music companies today brought a legal challenge to the Data Protection Commissioner because of the commisioner directing Eircom to stop implementing the three strikes rule.






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