Will Ireland Start Censoring the Web?

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Ireland may be joining repressive regimes North Korea, China and Iran by censoring the Internet for law-abiding citizens.

According to a report in The Irish Times, the government has been in extensive private discussions on the possibility of blocking access to certain Web sites and domains. The government hopes these filters could serve a range of uses, from blocking filesharing sites to trying to tackle cybercrime and terrorism.

Critics say Internet blocking creates many problems with little real effect on illegal activity. For example, Internet users and businesses have complained about the side-effects of domain blocking, where barring access to domains can shut down hundreds of personal and business Web sites as well as e-mail addresses associated with them.

The exact nature of the government discussions cannot be determined from the Freedom of Information requests that led to this disclosure, as many of the requests for key documents were refused by the Department of Justice. 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.

Several non-repressive regimes have either implemented or considered turning on Internet filters. Australia implemented filters in early February, and Israel has been dabbled in censorship as well.

For more information, read the Irish Times.