Launch of Digital Rights Ireland

By EDRi · December 5, 2005

Digital Rights Ireland will formally launch at a press conference in the Conference Room in Pearse Street Library, at 11-am on Tuesday 6 December. The group has been formed to defend civil, human and legal rights in a digital age. Digital Rights Ireland will be discussing its mission, and current developments in relation to Data Retention, IRMA legal action and other matters.

Digital Rights Ireland is chaired by UCD Law Lecturer TJ McIntyre and is comprised of academics, journalists and technologists. The group believes that citizens’ digital rights are being eroded – the rights we expect in the real world are being stripped from us in the online world. Protection of these rights will involve public promotion of digital rights, and lobbying for their protection where required.

Digital Rights Ireland is a contact point for policy makers who wish to gauge the impact of their regulation in this complicated, and sometimes technical, area. In addition, the group aims to provide an informed position on issues in the digital rights field, free from any commercial or political bias. Current areas of concern for the group include data retention, rights to privacy/data protection, helping people to fight spam, and intellectual property issues. Digital Rights Ireland also aims to inform citizens of their rights, and how to exercise them. To that end, collaborators already have produced pamphlets and research material on areas such as SMS spam and the Data Protection & Freedom of Information Acts. Further pamphlets, on matters such as libel liability for online speech, will follow shortly.

The foundation of Digital Rights Ireland is directly related to two political developments.

First, under current Irish law, citizens’ electronic communications data must be retained for 3 years. This includes the physical location of every mobile phone in the country, and the numbers dialled from every mobile and land line. It may be accessed, without a court order or specific ministerial order, by the Gardai. This access need not be in response to any crime. If the Gardai are satisfied that it might be useful in the prevention of a crime (not limited to serious crime), it is permissible.

The Irish Government is currently one of a group of four countries seeking to have this requirement extended across the EU, and broadened to include your online activities. If passed, this will require Internet Services Providers to log every email you send and every web page you visit. Digital Rights Ireland will act to keep Irish people informed about these issues, to defend their right to privacy from unwarranted infringement and to ensure that all legislation proposed and passed is in line with European and Irish Human Rights Law.

Secondly, the Irish Recorded Music Association is currently seeking to sue individuals they say they have identified as having uploaded music onto file-sharing networks. DRI are in favour of civil, legal and human rights being protected in a digital world. That must extend to the legal rights of copyright holders, as much as individuals. However, protection of copyright cannot come at the expense of the civil right to privacy.

The Irish Recorded Music Association has also publicly stated that it believes that it’s illegal to transfer music from your (legally bought) CDs to your (legally bought) iPod or MP3 player. DRI believes that the law in this area needs to be clarified – and if things like this are illegal, that the law needs to be changed.

All about Digital Rights Ireland


(Contribution by Teresa Hackett, EDRI-observer eiFL, Ireland)