The Government have announced that Richard Bruton has signed Sean Sherlock’s SOPA Ireland Ministerial Order into law. We can expect the music industry to immediately start seeking injunctions against ISPs to block access to parts of the internet.
This is a very bad decision.
It is a very bad decision because it will not solve the legal problem of uncertainty which the government say they want to address with this law. They have introduced a law which is likely to be successfully challenged and in the meantime will create nothing but further uncertainty.
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.
It is a bad decision because it ignores the unanimous concerns of Irish internet experts. From the Irish Internet Service Providers’ Association (whose members include Google), to Blacknight Hosting, to ALTO, all have said that the Statutory Instrument is not appropriate. Only yesterday Google spoke out against Internet censorship.
Most importantly, it is a disgraceful decision, not because an unprecedented 80,419 people mobilised in the space of a few days and told Ministers Bruton and Sherlock that they were wrong to take this action.
It is a shameful decision because the Government knows that those 80,419 people were right, and have done the wrong thing anyway.