From the “only in Ireland” department ..
In common with many governments, the Irish government allows citizens to submit petitions online. While many other governments would expect a petition to have some backing before they’d consider them, the Irish system apparently allows petitions to be submitted by a single person without any backing. According to the published rules the petitions shouldn’t be submit frivolous petitions, but since there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for a petition to be vetted or supported broadly you can end up with some rather odd requests taking up government time.
So you end up with this rather “odd” (and I’m being generous) petition to ban “anonymous sites”:
We the undersigned agree herewith to petition the Government to legislate to ban all anonymous websites, recognising bullying as a crime, with prescribed punishment/rehabilitation for offenders
What exactly is an “anonymous site”? I assume in this context it’s nothing to do with the hacktivist group, but if you want to ban something you really need to be careful how you frame it and define it.
The petitioner provided some more detail, but not a lot, in their supporting documentation:
Background supplied by petitioner:
Submitting petition on behalf of Killygordon & Crossroads Youth Club who have compiled same over a period of the last 5-6 months. Attached is a recommended list of suggested actions we would like to see the Government initiate along with the petition for a law change. We have undertaken this initiative following the tragic deaths by suicide of two sisters in our area as a consequence of actual face to face and cyber bullying and we urge the Government to take action to prevent any further incidents of this nature
List of suggested actions:
- Provision of workshops to update skills of the following people: HSE doctors, nurses and hospital staff, teachers, School Principals, Liaison Officer, Youth Workers, Gardai and parents.
- Lessons at National and Senior School level to change the mind-set
- Pilot scheme supplying the services of an Independent mediator to the Gardai, schools, pupils, parents or any individual who has been accused or is the victim of bullying in order to allow for mediation where possible, between the offender and victim
- Availability of counselling/Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and support via social services
- Use of media to take away stigma of being bullied and encourage young people to come forward in a safe protected environment
- Use media to instil that bullying is no longer acceptable and have a watch dog that investigates on-line bullying and forces the owners to take this type of content down
- Fine and close organisations that have anonymous websites or allow threatening or bullying behaviour on their websites
- Contact all other EU and world countries to encourage them to act in accordance with our guidelines on internet
Is bullying an issue? I’m sure it is, but getting the government to ban all anonymous websites is not going to fix it. It’s the kind of misinformed kneejerk type thing you see coming from the Irish government all too often unfortunately. (Don’t forget – the Irish government does not engage in internet governance fora, but is happy to reap the benefits of Internet companies setting up in Ireland .. )
What exactly is an anonymous site?
Is this a site where the domain is registered via a proxy or privacy service?
Or is this a site which allows “anonymous” comments?
Or is this a site where users can register using pseudonyms and post using them instead of their real names?
Sure, some users of some sites may have misbehaved and acted inappropriately. Unless they’re incredibly tech savvy they won’t be “anonymous” and it would be possible to track them down if their actions were serious enough to warrant it.
But calling for a banning of all anonymous sites is nutty and even contradicts other parts of the petition – a “safe environment” in many cases could be one where users were protected by a level of anonymity ..
Only in Ireland ..
Hopefully this won’t go any further..
UPDATE: Since this post has provoked some reaction here’s a couple of more details. The petition status is here. The committee has already reached a decision on it and have begun contacting 3rd parties to get their input on the matter, which is how it came to our attention.