DIGITAL RIGHTS IRELAND ENJOYED a major success with a case against mass surveillance which led to an Advocate-General’s opinion that the Data Retention Directive is incompatible with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. This result should lead to a judgment from the European Court of Justice which will give greater privacy rights for all Europeans.
MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht described this as a "breakthrough for civil liberties" in a Wall Street Journal article. The DRI also appeared before the Irish Parliament to argue against kneejerk reactions to “cyberbullying” which could damage free speech online.
But there are major financial woes around the DRI's accounts linked to an internet blocking case in Ireland. I went to a blog post on the DRI site to find out more.
In February 2013, the Digital Rights Ireland team took an important court case, applying to be an "amicus curiae" in a case brought by record companies demanding internet blocking in Ireland. This would have given the Digital Rights Ireland a voice in court and a method to explain why blocking is futile and how overblocking affects other websites and harms internet users. Otherwise the Irish courts could simply order blocking based only on the say so of the music industry – without anyone to challenge their case.
The judge gave a detailed decision. However, the upshot was that Digital Rights Ireland did not succeed in the application to the court. What’s more, costs were awarded against DRI. This meant that DRI has to pay the bills of the other parties to the case. The ISPs did not pursue costs against DRI, but the music industry did – demanding payment of €26,658.15 for what was, in effect, a single day in court. This bill, when challenged, was reduced to €13,700
In my opinion, litigation in Ireland favours industry rights over individual rights. Left to run its own course, Irish litigation could actually cripple civil society.
DRI faces crippling costs. If they cannot raise money to cover these costs of litigation, the music industry will mark 2014 as the year it shut down digital rights in Ireland.
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[Information and links in this blog post came from the Digital Rights Ireland website on January 2, 2014.]