Last year we revealed that the Department of Justice was working on secret plans to introduce internet filtering in Ireland. Now, despite a complete lack of any legislation, public consultation or democratic discussion, these plans have moved to the implementation stage.
In a letter which was leaked to us, Gardai have asked Irish ISPs to block sites designated by them, and for information about the browsing habits of users who are alleged to have visited these blocked sites. Here’s the full text of the letter:
This blocking – part of wider attempts to stop access to child pornography – is certainly well intentioned. But good intentions aren’t enough.
Experience elsewhere has shown that blocking is largely futile – easily evaded and stopping only a very small proportion of material (it wouldn’t cover, for example, peer to peer filesharing or newsgroups). Earlier this month, for example, it was revealed that Dutch ISPs have, for exactly this reason, abandoned what they concluded was “ineffective” web blocking.
Blocking is also a distraction from what should be the main focus of policing – removing material at source and identifying those responsible. Work in Germany has shown that blocking leaves material available indefinitely, when it could easily be taken down by contacting the hosting providers.
Seems we learn our lessons from the institutional child abuse carried out by the church and the subsequent scandals in various sports organisations and state bodies - in case of child abuse, See No Evil.