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Government has 'no intention' of restricting internet freedom - Sherlock

Minister of State Sean Sherlock has said this evening that the Government does not intend to introduce “SOPA-type legislation” in Ireland.

Fine Gael Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock. File photo.
Fine Gael Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock. File photo.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS “no intention” of introducing legislation that would restrict the freedom of Irish internet users, the Junior Minister at the Dept of Jobs, Enterprise Innovation Sean Sherlock has said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Drivetime programme this evening, Sherlock said that it was “just not true” that websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be blocked under a new statutory judgement currently being reviewed by the Cabinet.

“This is not SOPA-type legislation” Sherlock said in reference to the draft, adding that it was a “restatement of that which we [the Government] held existed in Irish law already”.

Sherlock cited a High Court action involving EMI versus UPC and others, during which the judge “held the Ireland was in breach of the e-commerce directive” because that there was no law to allow for a person or entity to seek an injunction where there was a breach of copyright, he said.

Sherlock said that the Government had taken the advice of the Attorney General to “restate” the position set out in that case.

He said that users had the right to use the internet and internet service providers (ISPs) also had ”do their business”. He then cited the Scarlet judgement which stated that ISPs cannot generally monitor or put in place a filtering system against user – and reiterated that the Government had not intention of blocking websites.

On the issue of internet privacy, Sherlock said that tackling such behaviour was an “extremely difficult thing to do”as it presented the need to balance the rights of ISPs and copyright holders.

Also speaking on the show, Michele Neylon – Managing Direction of one of Ireland’s largest host providers, Blacknight – said that while he believed Sherlock was “trying best to address concerns” but that he suspected that he did not understand “the technical implications” of what he was asking.

Read: Everything you need to know about Ireland’s SOPA>

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