The Irish Government is set to agree to hold a referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution, following recommendations of the constitutional convention earlier this year.
While no timeframe is outlined, it is claimed the vote
will be held on an appropriate date to be decided by the Government .
The sixth report from the convention, submitted to the Government in January, said a clear majority of members of the constitutional thinktank favoured the removal
of the blasphemy clause.
It also proposed replacing the offence of blasphemy with something more or less the same but with a different name, ie a general provision to include incitement to religious hatred; and the introduction of a new
set of detailed legislative provisions to include incitement to religious hatred .
Former minister for justice Dermot Ahern introduced a new crime of blasphemous libel in 2009, with the offence coming with a fine of at least EUR25,000. At the
time, Ahern said it was a short-term solution to avoid holding a referendum in an economic crisis.
According to Reuters, European internet censors say they've agreed on a uniform set of EU-wide rules and criteria that will be used to evaluate appeals under the disgraceful Right to Be Forgotten (RTBF) law announced earlier this year by the
Luxembourg-based European Union Court of 'Justice'.
Google has received in excess of 120,00 censorship requests since May. Many have been granted but many have not. Google is hardly in a position to research the merits of the case, so the decisions
are essentially arbitrary.
Those whose censorship requests are turned down will be able to appeal the decision and that's where these censorship criteria will be applied.
The specifics of the rules won't be finalized until November. However
Reuters suggests they will primarily take into account factors such as the public role of the person, whether the information relates to a crime and how old it is. There's still considerable ambiguity in some of these areas.
adopted a practice of notifying publishers when RTBF links are removed. Apparently EU censors don't like this practice (probably because it puts political pressure on them amid cries of censorship or objections from the publishers).
currently only removes the subject links and material from the individual country Google site where the request was made (e.g., Google.fr, Google.de) but not from Google.com. Johannes Caspar, Germany's internet censor, reportedly believes that these RTBF
removals should be expunged globally. He spewed:
The effect of removing search results should be global. This is in the spirit of the court ruling and the only meaningful way to act in a global environment like the
Hopefully this won't occur as the US is a bit more keen on freedom than the PC extremists of the EU.
Roy Greenslade in the Guardian has written of a fascinating example of the 'right to be forgotten' being clearly abused.
The Worcester News was told by Google that it was removing from its search archive an innocuous article in praise of a young
Although Google does not say who complained, the paper's editor, Peter John, is confident that Roach himself made the request because he had previously approached the News to remove the piece from its website. Apparently, Roach is now a
professional artist and, in the belief that he is now a much better painter than he was in 2009, he thinks the painting of a Walnut Whip which accompanies the article might damage his artistic reputation.
The Worcester News editor notes:
An artist wanting to remove part of his back catalogue did not strike us as the sort of principle that the European court of justice had in mind when it came up with the right to be forgotten ruling.
We are trying to appeal, but have not yet been able to find out if Google have an appeals procedure.
Ireland's TV censor has had a whinge at a slightly sexy dance performance on the talent show, The Voice of Ireland.
The performance accompanied contestant Danica Holland's rendition of Lady Gaga' s single Do What U Want on
Sunday, March 23. Around 521,200 people watched the programme which aired at 6.30pm, of which about 12% were under 18s.
The complainant was appalled that RTE would sanction such a dance routine at the time in question, and stated that when
one of the judges likened the routine to a scene from Basic Instinct , it reinforced her opinion of the programme.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) partially upheld a complaint from a woman who had been watching the programme
with her young children. In its ruling, the BAI said both the dance routine and song:
Included clear sexual overtones and in particular there were significant sexualised elements dealing with adult themes such as
sexual submission, both emotional and physical.
It considered these inappropriate for children and adolescents , some of whom it claimed are not likely to have the maturity to assess and negotiate the boundaries of
appropriate sexual behaviour , and added that the programme did not demonstrate due care .
Google is to fight back against the European Union's inane right to be forgotten ruling. Following a ruling from the European Union Court of Justice under which, Google must remove personal information from search results upon requests without
being in the position to ascertain that the request is justified.
In order to oppose against the ruling, Google is planning public hearings in seven different European cities starting in Madrid on September 9.
Google is looking for a robust
debate over the ruling and its implementation criteria, as said by a top lawyer, David Drummond. Google is not the only company to criticize the ruling and Wikipedia Founder , Jimmy Wales, has called the ruling to be deeply immoral and even
said that ruling will lead to an internet riddled with memory holes.
Drummond and Eric Schmidt, Google Chairman, will highlight the implications of this ruling. Furthermore, the company will outline ideas for handling requests related to
The right to be forgotten , the arbitrary removal of online material according to who shouts loudest, is wrong in principle and unworkable in practice, a parliamentary committee has said.
The House of Lords home affairs, health and education EU
sub-committee has condemned regulations being drawn up by the European commission and a recent landmark judgment by the European court of justice (ECJ).
The committee points out that the EU's 1995 data protection directive on which the ECJ
judgment relied was drafted three years before Google was founded. The committee's chair, Lady Prashar, said:
It is crystal clear that the neither the 1995 directive nor the [ECJ's] interpretation of it reflects
the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the directive was drafted.
We believe that the judgment of the court is unworkable for two main reasons. Firstly, it does not take into account the
effect the ruling will have on smaller search engines which, unlike Google, are unlikely to have the resources to process the thousands of removal requests they are likely to receive.
Secondly, we also believe that it is wrong in
principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria, and we heard from witnesses how uncomfortable they are with the idea of a commercial company sitting
in judgement on issues like that.
We think there is a very strong argument that, in the new regulation, search engines should not be classed as data controllers, and therefore not liable as 'owners' of the information they are
linking to. We also do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said.
The EU's Article 29 Censorship Working Party has criticised Google for telling publishers about removed right to be forgotten links, and it wants links removed worldwide, not just on European variants of Google.
Representatives of Google, Yahoo
and Bing were called back to address issues about the way that Google was handling right to be forgotten censorship requests. It turned into a sort of public dressing down of Google for not censoring links 'properly' .
Google was criticised for
the fact that it was only removing links from the EU sites, and links could still be found on the US and other Google search pages. The EU censors feel that any EU citizen who doesn't like a particular post has the right to have all links to that story
Google was also called out because they were informing the sources of the stories that they were pulling the links (causing websites to republish new articles, which added more new links, and so on). Irish data protection
censor Billy Hawkes expressed concerns regarding Google warning sites about their links being removed.
The more they do so, it means the media organisation republishes the information and so much for the right to be
forgotten. There is an issue there.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said it was dangerous to have companies decide what should be allowed to appear on the internet.
Internet search engines such as Google should not be left in charge of censoring history , the Wikipedia founder
has said, after the US firm revealed it had approved half of more than 90,000 right to be forgotten requests.
Jimmy Wales said it was dangerous to have companies decide what should and should not be allowed to appear on the internet.
The Society of Editors, which has the backing of
senior figures at the BBC, Sky News and ITN as well as major newspaper groups, as joined with Index on Censorship and the Media Lawyers Association to call on David Cameron and key EU data protection chiefs to resist censorship in the guise of the right
to be forgotten. The Society of Editors has wriiten to David Cameron:
Dear Prime Minister,
The issues about the so-called right to be forgotten raised by the recent European Court judgement involving Google, with its implications for other search engines and accessibility to other journalistic information give us serious cause for
We appreciate that no general right to be forgotten exists, as Ministers and the Information Commissioner have confirmed. The Court ruling is only about restricting access to links generated by search engines in
response to name searches. But there is a vital principle at stake which we trust that the Information Commissioner - responsible for adjudicating both data protection and freedom of information in the UK - and the government will defend with vigour.
The judgement makes clear that Europeans now have the right to demand that certain online material is obscured in search results and its dissemination via search engines is stopped. For media organisations and journalists, this is
akin to being asked - on the basis of the subjective opinions of individuals, rather than any specific Court order - to remove items from an index in newspaper archives. This is something we would only do after careful consideration based on a sound
legal and factual basis and hope never to be asked to do more.
We feel sure that neither the Information Commissioner nor the government would wish to see this happen but we seek assurances that any such moves will be firmly
resisted and will not be applied in any new data protection legislation coming out of Europe in the future.
We are concerned that the European Court's judgment goes against Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and
certainly the intentions of the UK Parliament when it introduced the Human Rights Act.
With regard to data protection legislation, journalistic work has always received special consideration. We are glad to see that the Court's
ruling continues this, and does not require news publishers to remove articles when asked to do so by individuals. This principle must be strongly defended or even enhanced. But the Court's ruling is deeply problematic for journalism in general, as it
has the effect of limiting the accessibility and dissemination of journalistic work via search engines, where the media company wishes this to be done. This reduces the visibility of the vital work done by journalists to ensure accountability throughout
society, which in itself is contrary to the spirit behind Article 10.
For this reason, we believe that there should be greater transparency about the actions of search engines to comply with the European Court's ruling.
Specifically, we believe there should be no restrictions on the ability of Google or other operators to inform the originator of material when links to that material are removed. Any restrictions would prevent publishers having the opportunity to make
their case on freedom of expression grounds thus making the process one-sided.
The Society of Editors has more than 400 members in national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and digital media, journalism
education and media law. It campaigns for media freedom, self regulation, the public's right to know and the maintenance of standards in journalism. This letter has the full support of the Society's board of directors which includes senior editors from
Sky News and the BBC and and key regional newspapers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also has the support of editors of major UK newspapers, including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Guardian, The Independent, the Financial
Times, the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, and Associated Newspapers as well as ITN.
We would be grateful for your comments about this and your assurances that these principles will be
Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state has banned websites from displaying the insignia of the Hells Angels and Bandidos motorcycle clubs.
The bright red Hells Angels lettering and the iconic winged skull or the so-called Fat Mexican of the
Bandidos gang will now be liable to prosecution according to the state interior minister, Ralf Jager:
The biker symbols must be deleted from websites or the site will be taken down. Offenders will be tracked down based
on the website and punished.
We do not want to tolerate any legal loopholes. We're applying a zero tolerance strategy. We'll use all of our available legal options in the fight against biker crime.
first banned the Hells Angels' charter in Hamburg in 1983. When a former member of the gang tried to appeal the decision in April this year, a judge ruled that public displays of the logo were forbidden throughout the entire country.
A politician in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country's justice minister, who is black, to an ape.
Anne-Sophie Leclere of the far right Front National party provoked a PC storm last year when she compared
Christiane Taubira to an ape on French television and posted a photomontage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee. The caption under the baby ape said At 18 months , and the one below
Taubira's photograph read Now .
A court in Cayenne, French Guiana (part of France), sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a € 50,000 fine.
A French judge has ludicrously ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results. The judge ordered that the post's title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.
restaurant owners claimed the article's prominence was unfairly hurting their business. Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled the place to avoid in
Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino .
In her article, which has now been deleted, she complained of poor service and what she said was a poor attitude on the part of the owner during a visit in August 2013. According to court documents, the review
appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog's title should be changed, so that the phrase: the place to avoid was less prominent in the results.
Doudet said the decision made it a
crime to be highly ranked on search engines:
This decision creates a new crime of 'being too highly ranked [on a search engine]', or of having too great an influence'.
What is perverse, is that
we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.
The judge ordered Doudet to amend the title of the blog and to pay € 1,500 to the restaurant.
How are you implementing the recent Court of Justice of
the European Union (CJEU) decision on the right to be forgotten?
The recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union has profound consequences for search engines in Europe. The court found that certain users have
the right to ask search engines like Google to remove results for queries that include the person's name. To qualify, the results shown would need to be inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive.
Since this ruling
was published on 13 May 2014, we've been working around the clock to comply. This is a complicated process because we need to assess each individual request and balance the rights of the individual to control his or her personal data with the public's
right to know and distribute information.
We look forward to working closely with data protection authorities and others over the coming months as we refine our approach. The CJEU's ruling constitutes a significant change for
search engines. While we are concerned about its impact, we also believe that it's important to respect the Court's judgement and we are working hard to devise a process that complies with the law.
When you search for a name, you
may see a notice that says that results may have been modified in accordance with data protection law in Europe. We're showing this notice in Europe when a user searches for most names, not just pages that have been affected by a removal.
Max Mosley has launched a new legal claim against Google, the search engine giant, for reproducing sexual images related to an expose in the News of the
Proceedings have been issued against Google's British arm and its California-based parent company, claiming that continuing to link to the images is a misuse of private information and a breach of data protection laws.
spokesman for Google said: We have worked with Mr Mosley to address his concerns and taken down hundreds of URLs [internet links] about which he has notified us.
Sources in the company said they would fight the new High Court claim.