Government proposals to introduce surveillance of all internet users are unacceptable. The proposed law will require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to log details of every email, every instant message or chat message, and every time users log on or log off, and to store that information for up to 18 months. This information will then be available without any court order or warrant. These proposals, implementing European law, are being drafted without public consultation and would be implemented by a statutory instrument. There will be no scrutiny by the Oireachtas.
It is incredible that the Government proposes to introduce a law which would require every Internet user to be monitored without any warrant or prior judicial approval, without any public consultation and without any debate or vote in the Oireachtas. A law of this gravity should not be made by stealth.
The Department of Justice appears to be relying on the â€œurgencyâ€ of the matter to justify bypassing the Dail and Seanad. But the European law being implemented was passed in February 2006. The Department has had two years to introduce a Bill and it cannot rely on its own delay to justify sidelining democratic scrutiny.
In any case, it is inappropriate to implement this law whilst it is under court challenge. The Irish government itself has challenged the validity of the law before the European Court of Justice. Digital Rights Ireland has also brought a High Court action challenging the European law. These proposals will effectively pre-empt the judgment of the courts.
It’s an EU Data Retention Directive, but if memory serves me rightly, and do correct me if I’m wrong, it was the Irish government in the person of Michael McDowell who pushed this dangerous concept in Europe in the first place.
I’ve always been pro-European, and I’ve good reason to be still, but there are straws in the wind, and this is a significant one, which has convinced me to vote against the Lisbon Treaty by way of protest.
In the US, they are finally waking up to the dangers of mass surveillance, and let’s do so here before the next repressive step is in place. There is no reason for a state to monitor its citizens other than sinister reasons.
See Wolf on YouTube and a passionate Al Gore Speech to the American Constitution Society and The Liberty Coalition on Domestic Spying (January 2006, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC).