|Labour Party Junior Minister Sean Sherlock|
This is Labour Party junior Minister Sean Sherlock. It's probably not important that you remember his face because his career in Irish politics may soon be over.
Because today, to national and international outrage, Sherlock confirmed that SOPA (the highly controversial instrument that reinforces online copyrights laws in Ireland) has been signed into law.
Critics, which include most of the Irish voting public, have outlined how the SOPA legislation will limit internet freedom. Put plainly SOPA will limit your ability to blog, repost others content or even use a companies name without a trademark acknowledgement, opening the unsuspecting public up to a host of potential claims.
Online piracy won't miss a beat, but web standards like Facebook, Blogger, YouTube and so on will be put at risk.
It would help if the definitions of breach of copyright had been clearly defined, but that's not the case here at all. This legislation leaves you vulnerable to be be the subject of an injunction for even posting a song on a social network page.
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------------------ So the gates are closing. Now we expect the corporations to start seeking injunctions against Internet Service Providers (ISP's) to block access to entire swathes of the internet right away.
What's particularly galling is the government's high handed act. In the United States they dropped SOPA legislation because voters objected, but in Ireland they just waited for the controversy to die down and railroaded it through.
I had hoped Ireland had learned enough in recent years to move beyond this style of governance.
Ireland has put itself forward as a center for excellence in technology. But the Irish Internet Service Providers’ Association (whose members include Google) have said that this legislation is not appropriate
. Sherlock is the Minister for Research and Innovation, he has no background in the internet or tech sector at all.
Our political leaders, who also have no background in the area they just legislated for, also did not listen. The question is why not? Now our government has just enacted a law that profoundly impacts on the freedom to do business and free expressions of every company and every citizen in the nation.
80,419 Irish voters told Ministers Richard Bruton and Sean Sherlock that they were wrong to take this action. The damage the government has just done to Ireland's international reputation as a tech center can not be overstated. I would like to see them explain their move in a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, for example - if it wasn't already abundantly clear how out of their depth they actually are.
Having ignored public outrage and allowed the banks to saddle the nation with insurmountable debt, it now seems our leaders want to ignore the public in every other sphere of their self expression too. This law will kill the Irish internet.
You can send Junior Minister Sherlock your response to the legislation at the following address: www.seansherlock.ie.