News & Media

Labour pledges support for Internet rights

25 November 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Speaking in response to the launch of a new Contract for the Web by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, signalled Labour’s full endorsement of the nine principles of the Contract for the Web.

Brendan said:

“There is a need for an over-arching vision for the future of the Internet as a tool that promotes democracy, freedom and human rights. Tim Berners-Lee and the many organisations involved in a new Contract for the Web have done the world a great favour by proposing a set of principles to guide governments, companies and individuals towards protecting and promoting an Internet that serves the public good. I am delighted to today sign the Contract for the Web on behalf of the Labour Party.

“Labour led on Ireland’s freedom of information Act, which gives people control over their own information as well as giving them access to public documents. Labour also led on Ireland’s participation in the global Open Government Partnership, which sought to use new technology to strengthen democracy. Labour’s Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill has been accepted by the Government and will ultimately outlaw various offences including online bullying, ‘revenge porn’ and stalking people.

“Fake news and misinformation has become a major concern during elections and referendums, which is why I have called for a complete ban on political ads on social media during election periods.

“Access to information, freedom of speech and freedom of association are the building blocks of democracy. When access to the Internet is restricted, as it currently is in countries like China and Iran, that clearly is intended to suppress calls for democracy and human rights. Based on our track record on these issues, Irish people can rest assured that Labour will legislate for new digital rights that will underpin the nine principles, including the duty of Government to ensure everyone can connect to the Internet, keeping all of the Internet available all of the time, and respecting and protecting people's fundamental online  privacy and data rights.”

ENDS

NOTE FOR EDITORS

More details on the Contract for the Web and the nine principles can be found here:

https://contractfortheweb.org/