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Censorship Government The Internet Your Rights Online

Ireland May Be Next To Censor the Internet 155

Posted by kdawson
from the sure-and-it's-a-good-man's-weakness dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Irish Times, the government of Ireland — the country that recently made blasphemy a criminal offense — has had extensive talks regarding the censorship of the Internet. Details are a little sketchy, as the documents requested under the Freedom of Information request were denied; however, '...the ongoing high level of discussion on the subject is indicated in the detailed description of each refused item in the list of materials returned by the [Department of Justice].' Ireland seems to be following the well-trodden path blazed by the Land Down Under, justifying censorship with 'won't somebody think of the children!' (and the copyright holders)."
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Ireland May Be Next To Censor the Internet

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  • Goodbye Internet, it was nice knowing you.

    Hello Web 3.0.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If the Web 3.0 is the censored Internet, may I stay at version 2.0 please? Or is it like Sony: "Your version of the Internet does not allow you to connect, so please update to 3.0?"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by codegen (103601)
        If you don't upgrade you are a terrorist (or a pedophile)!!
      • Re:Goodbye Internet (Score:4, Interesting)

        by john83 (923470) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:38AM (#31870984)
        Given our record [digitalrights.ie] on this sort of thing, the ISPs here will cheerfully comply.
        • So tell me, Ireland, if I stand out in the middle of, say, Dublin's Victoria Quay, and yell out "Jesus sucks!", would I really get taken to jail?
          • by xaxa (988988)

            That's boring. You should try reading the poem about Jesus being sucked [gydja.com].

            (See also the paragraphs starting "In 1997 however" and "In 2002, a deliberate and well-publicised" on this page [wikipedia.org].)

          • by john83 (923470)

            So tell me, Ireland, if I stand out in the middle of, say, Dublin's Victoria Quay, and yell out "Jesus sucks!", would I really get taken to jail?

            No. No one intends to enforce the law. The minister for justice argued that he had to replace the existing law (which was struck down in court in the 90s) because the constitution requires it (it was written in 1937 by a religious man and is rather showing its age). However, no one has been prosecuted, not even Atheist Ireland, who published 25 blasphemous quotes in order to test the law in court. The minister in question has indicated that he may allow the relevant part of the constitution be removed in a

    • by martas (1439879) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:27AM (#31871640)
      Plato: “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” As true now as it has ever been.
  • Blasphemous! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spammeister (586331)
    I think that FSM and other "religions" that rely on the internet to "spread the good word" would be in all rights able to get this law struck down on some sort of trumped-up blasphemy charge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by thijsh (910751)
      All religions are created equally, some more equal than others...
      It will be fun for a laugh, but if they try they'll see how objective people really are around religion. FSM supporters might even get jail-time because the have invented a religion purely for blasphemous purposes in the judges eyes.
    • by sznupi (719324) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:28AM (#31870868) Homepage

      "Think of the children!" would recently seem to be blaspheamous for too significant part of Irish religious "elite".

      Though maybe not, taking various meanings of "think" into account...

      • Re:Blasphemous! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thijsh (910751) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:45AM (#31871060) Journal
        When you have religion dictating what to do with/for/about children I always think: these are the same people that are against planned parenthood, want children to go to church (and the risk of buggering is a bonus) and preach abstinence and other fables to children. There has been a shitstorm about catholic child-abuse, but it's only the tip of the iceberg because a lot of people still think they will betray their faith/god/pope when they talk about their pedo-priest... that's the saddest part: not that it happened but that religion is so involved people are scared for their soul while it should be the priests that fear the flames...
        • by sznupi (719324)

          The push to control (well, "destabilise" would be a good word, too) sexuality of adolescents is probably a very usefull adaptation for a religion, I imagine. Perhaps if you're made to fight, supress such potent and integral force in you (and at formative years of your life), it increases the chances you will never escape it, bend yourself to value it for lack of options (what's done...), pass it further, etc.

  • Punishment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:16AM (#31870750) Homepage

    And I suppose that the punishment to speaking against God will be stoning to death?
    So what happens to all the citizens of Ireland that do not believe in God? I would guess that practicing any other religion is considered blasphemy...

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Even better, such blasphemy laws (when in so called "civilised" word) are usually written in a neutral way, served as part of freedom of religion. Which is of course legal nonsense because virtually every single religion hurts feelings (that's how blasphemy law is worded at my place, I kid you not) of other religions...

      That's just for show of course, such law applies in practise only to most entrenched (and wishing very much to stay that way) faith.

  • Not a major problem! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by osullish (586626) <osullish@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:19AM (#31870776)
    I'm Irish, and at the rate this country is falling apart, they'll be nobody left here to access the internet in a few years. This is typical of the current Irish government, faffing about with silly non-existant problems, while failing to tackle the major problems like the economy, the collapse of the banking sector, the arse falling out of the property market, the child abuse scandal involving the catholic church, the alcoholism of the country, the violent crime thats becoming more prevalent etc. We're €81,000,000,000 in the red due to the cronyism of the banking and construction sector and this is what we waste our time with!
    • Let's be clear (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The ultimate goal of censorship -- like every other expansion of government power -- is simply money. The idea of "moral standards", "hate speech", or "national security" are merely smokescreens for what they're really after: billions of dollars in revenue.

      At the top of the power pyramid, as long as the money passes through your hands, you win. It doesn't matter where it goes, as long as it passes through your hands, giving you a chance to exploit it for personal gain.

      Make no mistake, the primary effect of

    • by FatSean (18753) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:40AM (#31871006) Homepage Journal

      Here in the USA I keep hearing about how the Irish economy boomed after taxes were cut to the bone to 'encourage business'. What say you?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:53AM (#31871152)

        That was a number of years ago. That time period was called the Celtic Tiger (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_Tiger). It was a short-lived period of economic growth. But like osullish said, the arse is falling out of everything! :-)

      • by raddan (519638) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:23AM (#31871580)
        Sadly, the idea that Ireland's boom was a result of cutting business tax is a myth, and was covered extensively in this On Point broadcast [onpointradio.org]. The real reason for Ireland's boom was easy credit, the same as everywhere else. Only their bubble was bigger-- partly because the Irish people had never before known a time of wealth, and also partly because Ireland became an attractive place to do business (comparatively low-wage, English-speaking labor)-- a property that disappeared around the same time as the crisis as emigration decreased and wages began to rise. What is true, though, is that the deep cutting of business tax had a detrimental effect on the ability of the government to actually do anything about the crisis-- they simply did not have the funds available to lessen its severity like we were able to in the U.S.

        I have many friends who were affected deeply by this. The family of a good friend of mine was nearly employed in its entirety by Dell's Limerick plant. Dell left for cheaper labor in Poland, around the same time that the financial crisis hit. Nearly all of these folks, who, for the first time in generations, could afford to live in their own houses, and own their own cars, went bankrupt overnight. You can debate the wisdom of putting yourself in debt when your fate is tied to a fickle corporation, but the fact is that Dell was fully aware that this would be the result. Dell can kiss my ass if they think I'll ever buy or recommend their hardware again.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Protoslo (752870)
          Cutting corporate income tax may not have fueled purely domestic growth, but surely you wont't deny that countless tech companies (e.g. Microsoft) from the U.S. and elsewhere used Ireland as a tax shelter for their IP profits. Even if that didn't bring (many) more jobs to Ireland, it surely helped national tax revenues, at least while the companies were still posting quarterly profits that could be taxed. How can you claim that raising the corporate income tax would have alleviated the crisis? It can be
        • Sadly, the idea that Ireland's boom was a result of cutting business tax is a myth, and was covered extensively in this On Point broadcast [onpointradio.org]. The real reason for Ireland's boom was easy credit, the same as everywhere else.

          Sigh. There was a real boom before the bubble (1993 to 1999), and that was directly related to the low corporate tax. The property bubble was always a farce and should not be considred part of the Celtic tiger era.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:53AM (#31871154) Journal
      Why would any sensible person opt to tackle hard problems(especially hard problems that might involve saying upsetting things: for instance "the arse falling out of the property market" almost certainly means that past politicians, and lucky investors, rode a speculative wave, and you are the poor bastard who either has to say "Sorry suckers, it was all a bubble." and get ripped apart by people who believe that they have a natural right to ever-increasing property values, or try to prop up the bubble just a bit longer with some ridiculous tax-credit scheme.) when they could "tackle" easy but emotionally salient ones?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nathrael (1251426)
      Well - your country's ruling party is called Fianna Fail for a reason :P .
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Yep, and in solidarity with this criticism of the Irish government, I'd just like to say: FUCK YOU Deputy Stagg! [youtube.com]

    • I thought alcoholism was basically the main industry of Ireland. Nothing wrong with Guinness! Can't the bankers just sit down in a pub and agree to print some more money to pay for the beer or something?
  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:20AM (#31870788)

    They're always trying to steal their Lucky Charms.

  • Asinine... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:22AM (#31870824) Homepage

    Each religion blasphemes the deities of the others, even in subtle ways. Muslims blaspheme Jesus Christ by denying his divinity to Christians. Christians blaspheme Yaweh in the eyes of the Jews by calling Jesus his son. Both blaspheme Allah in the eyes of the Muslim by most of their beliefs about Mohamed and their religious texts.

    • Re:Asinine... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by john83 (923470) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:39AM (#31871004)

      Each religion blasphemes the deities of the others, even in subtle ways. Muslims blaspheme Jesus Christ by denying his divinity to Christians. Christians blaspheme Yaweh in the eyes of the Jews by calling Jesus his son. Both blaspheme Allah in the eyes of the Muslim by most of their beliefs about Mohamed and their religious texts.

      Yeah, we know [atheist.ie].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296)

      A little thing called "truth" gets in the way of a lot of this.

      For instance, if you examine the truthful historical record, Mohammed was a rapist, murderer, pedophile, and habitual liar. In other words, one hell of a politician. He also REDUCED, rather than enhanced, womens' rights in the region (they never fess up to the fact that his first wife was a "MILF" widow who owned and ran her own business, was more than a decade his senior, and basically married him because she was tired of not gettin' any and wa

      • by sznupi (719324)

        You know, for full picture you should include at the least Jesus or deity from Old Testament...why you chose not to?

        • by Moryath (553296)

          I figured in any discussion like this, a dozen people have already made "Pope Pedobear" jokes, so no need to bother. I went for some more interesting cases.

      • Re:Asinine... (Score:4, Informative)

        by koiransuklaa (1502579) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:43AM (#31871862)

        Your post stands generally speaking but referring to "the truthful historical record" with regards to Muhammad is a bit weird. Historical records from the pre-Islamic period are rare and quite unreliable: they mostly give us insight on what was considered a somewhat plausible story at the time. Records from the islamic time are better (although still fairly few) but as Muhammad was such a hot topic, their reliability is quite suspect as well.

      • you forgot the catholics, the hindus, the jews and the protestants.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Ahh, I missed good old MAD ;>

      (well, won't really happen...most religions seem to be recently in informal cease fire; most survivable state given the circumstances)

  • by Handbrewer (817519) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:24AM (#31870838) Homepage
    And I'm not kidding, I live here at the moment, although I come from mainland Europe. This country is backwards. Think 1940es style, backwards.

    I dont know why that is, perhaps its the general repression during British rule, the famine, the isolation from europe, and the dominance of the catholic church, but its so conservative you wouldnt believe it. Women have to go on special ferries to get abortions in the UK - and they risk all kinds of hell if anyone reports it back home. I see teenage mothers all over the place and every day theres new details about the catholic church raping (literally) the entire society. And on top of that, the last 3 taoiseachs has been openly corrupt, and probably longer back than that.

    Oh well, atleast the pubs are OK.
    • by Krahar (1655029)

      every day theres new details about the catholic church raping (literally) the entire society.


    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm confused... i could have sworn that women got regular ferries, or more commonly flew. (not many abortion clinics in holyhead)

      Also... none of the Taoiseachs were openly corrupt, just secretly corrupt like every other head of state.

      • by Paul Jakma (2677)

        Haughey was openly corrupt. He lived an amazingly grand life-style for a professional politician, replete with a country house set in a large estate and his own, private island. I was a bit young to be politically aware myself in the early 80s, but I know my parent's despised him for his corruptness, for such reasons.

    • That's global warming for you!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      As someone from Ireland, I can tell you that the above post is embellished--but only rhetorically.

    • Please be verrrry careful about accusing others of 1940s style repression. I mean, Ireland might not be the same as everywhere else (diversity uber alles) but hell they didn't kill six million Jews like you Europeans did.
    • by Paul Jakma (2677)

      Not all of them. In my memory it's pretty much just been the Haughey-ite, Fianna Fail taoiseachs who have been massively corrupt. I.e. Haughey and his protege Bertie. Reynolds seemed reasonably decent for a Fianna Fail'er. I can't work out if Cowen is principled but utterly misguided, or corrupted - but he was at least not a Haughey-ite.

      On the other side, the Fianna Gael taoiseachs have been decent enough, i.e. Fitzgerald and Bruton. The big problem is that the Irish electorate seem to delight in electing b

    • but its so conservative you wouldnt believe it.

      You must be off your head, go out clubbing in any major Irish city and you'll see more fine young wans wearing large belts, halter tops, and sod all else, than you'll find almost anywhere. Thank god for that and guinness.

  • Ireland's new national campaign sticker:

    The Internet: Not Magically Delicious
  • Dear Ireland, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:29AM (#31870880) Journal

    God doesn't need your help. He's a big God, and can take care of Himself. If someone insults Him online, don't you think He can deal with the offender as he pleases without your worthless help?

    This is why, IMHO, one of the strongest tenets of true faith truly held is separation of church and state.

    • God doesn't need your help. He's a big God, and can take care of Himself. If someone insults Him online, don't you think He can deal with the offender as he pleases without your worthless help?

      Nice try, but it won't necessary work. I don't know about Catholics, but with respect to Muslims, at least, they do believe (because it's written in their holy book) that God has explicitly commanded them to take care of these matters "in his name".

    • We are aware of this, and are trying as hard as possible to boot the bastards out in the face of 1950s-era politicans and the lunatic religious fanatics in the civil service. Sincerely, The people of Ireland.
  • Anyone see the world slipping in to another dark ages, one country at a time? Sure, censoring the internet itself isn't worth getting that worked up over, but the motivation behind it and the goals that they home to achieve are nothing short of distressing.

    How long before certain books are outlawed?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      To be fair, our current modern times are in large part also a byproduct of social reality which was born during so called "dark ages" - a times with many distortions to be sure. But also times when social structure was remodelled, braking away with stagnation of late antiquity; times of great progress...which ultimatelly gave way to agrarian, scientific, industrial and information revolutions. I can't be certain what next few centuries will bring, but IMHO don't expact "dark ages" (colloquially understood).

  • The problem is that no filtering system in use (or suggested by) any government anywhere in the world will stop the hardcore pedophiles from accessing their encrypted dark-nets and p2p networks where they get all their child porn from.

    Show me a filtering system that even attempts to block the real sources of Child Pornography and maybe I will listen to governments trying to push it.
    Until then, forget about it :)

  • Is anyone else totally not surprised that Ireland parent's don't want the responsibility of taking care of their children themselves and would rather have the government do it. This very type of legislature made me think Australians have no sense of personal responsibility for their children, and would rather have the government just fix the problem instead of actually using parenting skills.
  • There is one thing people from other countries--especially the US--really need to understand about Ireland.

    In Ireland, we do not really have laws. What we have are more like customs.

    Now, it's customary for the Dail (Parliment) to pass the odd few reasonable laws, and its customary for the population to--more or less--abide by them. It's also customary at times, for the sake of appearances or to placate foreign interests, for the Dail to pass unreasonable, unpopular or at times ludicrous laws (e.g. blasphemy). On such occasions, it's customary for the population(and indeed the State) to completely ignore the laws as they are passed.

    If you want an example of this, there's a story in the same newspaper about Ireland's oldest gay bar [irishtimes.com], which opened while homosexuality was still actually illegal in the country. While it may have been illegal, no one was actually going to waste their time dealing with it.

    Despite this however, I imagine that internet censorship will eventually be implemented in Ireland as it has been in the UK and Australia, and in Saudi Arabia and China. The technologies developed by the west to oppress those in other countries are being turned back on its own apathetic populations. We've only ourselves to blame.

    • That's cool. (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by FatSean (18753)

      Sadly, it doesn't work this way in the US. Once the absurd laws are passed, the fat and stupid "salt of the earth" enjoy trying to get victims prosecuted under those laws. While they bitch about the taxes they pay.

    • Unless I've missed something UK internet isn't censored, just monitored and recorded.

      They don't stop you doing bad things, they just watch you do it.

      The perverts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garyok (218493)
        Not yet - wait until the Digital Economy Bill kicks in in about a year and all sorts of sites start falling off the net because they enabled 'copyright infringement'. And that's forgetting the efforts by the Internet Watch Foundation trying to get sites blocked for teh kiddehs. Damn, I'm thinking of starting a Stay the Fuck Out of Other People's Business Party. That's change you can believe in.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually the UK internet is censored by some ISP's. There is a voluntary scheme where ISP's block sites on the IWF [iwf.org.uk] list (Internet Watch Foundation). Only the IWF and the Home Secretary know the contents of the IWF list. I believe even elected Members of Parliament are not allowed to look at the list.

        IWF does NOT have a license to look at kiddy porn, but by some strange magic they manage to work out the sites to block. Oh and the Home Secretary can add any other sites he/she desires.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          Actually the UK internet is censored by some ISP's. There is a voluntary scheme where ISP's block sites on the IWF [iwf.org.uk] list (Internet Watch Foundation). Only the IWF and the Home Secretary know the contents of the IWF list. I believe even elected Members of Parliament are not allowed to look at the list.

          It's worth pointing out that this is voluntary in the sense that the Government basically wrote to the major ISPs saying "work together to block such traffic or we'll force legislation upon you to do it".

          You won't find a major ISP that is not signed up to this scheme.

          • by Paul Jakma (2677)

            Try Andrews & Arnold [aaisp.net.uk]. They've said they won't do IWF filtering. They've also recently issued a statement on the DE Act to say they'll follow it to its technical letter, but so far as possible they'll work around its intention and keep customers online.

            Really must go support them with my money - soon as I can take the time hit of switching ISPs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigdaisy (30400)

      for the sake of appearances or to placate foreign interests

      The blasphemy law was passed because the constitution prohibits blasphemy and requires that laws be passed to enforce that prohibition. Nothing had been done about this for decades and nobody cared. The government suddenly decided that someone might take a case against them for failure to legislate for blasphemy, so we got this law that was described as being a trivial law to tie up a few constitutional loose ends and sure the fine is only E100,000! Of course, the proper solution would have been to change t

    • by mrsurb (1484303)

      Australia's not censored. Yet. All the debate has been about a trial scheme that was implemented voluntarily by a number of ISPs and a proposed bill that hasn't been introduced into parliament yet. To get the bill to pass the government will need the support in the Senate of either the Opposition (possible), or the Greens and misc others (not going to happen, the Greens are opposed to it).

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Slight correction: Internet censorship has not been introduced in Australia (nor the UK for that matter). Proposals for doing so may be on the table in Parliament shortly, but it's far from a done deal. So your "as it has been in the UK and Australia" sentence isn't quite right. Yet, at least.

  • by kikito (971480)

    Irish people, consider yourself mocked by me.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They're censored, and cannot see your mockery.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The blasphemy law wasn't passed because we're against blasphemy, it's because we're lazy.

    Someone in the Dail(parliament) read the constitution, saw that blasphemy was a crime but there was no punishment associated with it, this meant our constitution wasn't valid, so we needed to come up with a law quick.

    Why didnt they just scrap the law? Because that would involve a re-evaluation of the constitution, which would mean we'd have to take out/re-word all the bits that's involve God, who is practically a main c

  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:52AM (#31871136) Homepage

    So I would basically last about 3 minutes in Ireland before being locked up. Look, I had a lovely dinner, and all I said was "that piece of halibut was fit for Jehova."

  • by SAN1701 (537455)
    But all I said to my wife was "That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!"
  • Anne McCaffrey wasn't happy enough with sending out Jay Katz just to hound the fans that posted dragonrider drawings...! Moreta save us all!

  • Blasphemy?! What next, burning witches? These people call themselves a modern, western society? Primitive, superstitious a**holes is more like it. I guess Tom Lehrer is gonna be banned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f72CTDe4-0 [youtube.com]
  • Ah,Blasphemy. The ultimate victimless crime.

    Censorship, on the other hand ...

    Again, the religious community sacrifices the moral to protect the orthodox.

  • Does the government of Ireland rise up from the floor of the pub and actually make laws? If so why?

After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.