To Whom It May Concern,
How are you keeping? I hope this missive finds you in good health. I find myself writing today in somewhat unfortunate circumstances. I’m afraid that despite being a very firm proponent of the “free-internet”, you have chosen some very unseemly branding for your campaign which utterly precludes me from supporting you any more than I already have.
I refer, of course, to your use of the phrase “SOPA Ireland”. I agree, naturally, that it makes for a rather excellent tagline. Everyone knows about SOPA, so why not tag that on to your campaign? If people think we’re getting our own SOPA, of course they’ll support you! They’ll probably even sign your petition without so much as listening to Minister Sherlock’s side of the story. “DAMMIT SEAN, IT’S SOPA!! I DON’T NEED YOUR EXCUSES!!!”. I did.
But it’s really not SOPA, is it?
In fact, it’s not even close.
SOPA contained all kinds of nasty odds and ends. Take the DNS provisions, which would have obliged those operating DNS servers in the States to… well, it wasn’t really clear what they could do. The DNS system, as it currently exists, is designed to be pretty much fail-safe, and to prevent people from doing what the US government was proposing, which was to try and blacklist a website so thoroughly that nobody would be able to find it. Not sure it could have worked without dramatic alterations to the fundamental structure of the web. “SOPA Ireland” doesn’t contain these DNS provisions (or anything like them), does it?
There’s also a whole big bit of SOPA where they criminalise various things that aren’t defined very well, and increase the punishments for various other things. Again, apart from the “being very vague bit”, none of this kind of thing is happening in Minister Sherlock’s bill (well, as far as we know. If it turns out that the final text is actually just a copy-paste of the actual SOPA then I’ll be out there on the front lines with you in a heartbeat).
More to the point, Eircom are already blocking The Pirate Bay. Why is that again? Oh, yeah, a court order. In fact, just about the only thing that this bill actually does is (shock! horror! scandal!) restate the current position: exactly what Minister Sherlock has been blue in the face saying for quite some time!
None of this is to defend Minister Sherlock’s handling of the situation. He comes across like a rabbit caught in the headlights here, and the fact that he chose now, so soon after SOPA/PIPA to do this, belies… Well, incredible naivety at best. Near-criminal levels of stupidity at worst.
(Of course approaching this issue as one that’s appropriate for “secondary legislation” is utterly wrong. Even though he considers what he’s doing a mere restating of current position, this is still not the time to do it. If there’s a problem, how about our legislature mans the hell up and legislates, rather than pass the judiciary a note saying “Cover for us? Kk thx xoxo Sean”. But Sean will get his own letter. He’s not calling this whole debacle “SOPA Ireland”. This is for the people who are).
The powers that be might engage with you. Maybe. More likely they’ll look at your stupid campaign headline and ignore you as utter cranks, protesting against something which has little relevance except as an indicator of how clueless current Ministers are on just about everything to do with technology.
Instead of wasting your time on this, why not go come up with some constructive proposals, get a proper campaign name, and get to work making the web a better place for everyone? I’d love to be part of that campaign. We could call it Protect Ireland’s Precious Assets. Or… Well, not that actually… But you get the idea, I hope.
Better than standing around shouting and getting ignored, surely.
Give my regards to everyone,
A Concerned Citizen