It’s the final days of the year, but we’re still reeling from the news that the Irish Government has passed a bill to ban digital light production.
It’s a decision that was welcomed by the digital industry, who said it would be an “unfair barrier to innovation”.
“The government is going against the very nature of digital,” said Digital Ireland’s head of digital, Michael Collins.
“It will put at risk the very companies that will build the digital economy.”
The Government’s announcement came on the heels of a landmark decision by the European Commission that it was not looking for a solution to the issue.
In a decision published on Tuesday, the commission has stated that the European Union is ready to consider the possible introduction of a common rules-based approach to the digital age.
“There is a consensus among stakeholders that the best way forward is to develop a common approach to digital rights,” it stated.
“This approach should include harmonisation of digital standards and a mechanism for the sharing of data and technology between Member States.”
The commission also expressed concern over the proposed legislative changes in Ireland.
“The proposed changes would undermine the very principle of freedom of expression, including the right to make and distribute content,” it said.
“They would also threaten the digital rights of citizens and undermine the functioning of the European Digital Single Market.”
The Irish Government said the legislation would be a “step back” in the country’s Digital Economy.
“This is an issue that affects all of us and we must all work together to ensure that this is not the case,” Minister for Communications Brendan Howlin said.
He said that a number of digital companies had expressed their support for the move.
“These companies have made the commitment to the Government that they would not have to take any action if they did not want to,” Mr Howlin added.
“We are still considering their submissions and are also looking to other sectors of the economy for their support.”
However, it seems the Government has yet to come up with a clear vision for what that vision might look like.
Digital rights advocate Michael Collins said the Government had missed an opportunity to create a new relationship between digital and physical industries.
“What they have done is go back to the same old tired argument that the digital market is a free market,” he said.
We have to be in a globalised world and digital must be part of that.
It’s time we started thinking differently and got out of the digital jungle and started building something better for our future.”