Tag Archives: Internet


[A screengrab from the Fine Gael website last night]

Fine Gael’s website published has published a piece by Patrick O’Donovan, a Fine Gael TD on the Communications Committee, about the future…

Robert Synnott writes:

Go read it; it’s really quite an amazing piece. I believe it’s supposed to be about the Silk Road, a seller of illegal materials, largely drugs, on the Tor network, and possibly also about Freedom Hosting, also on the Tor network and formerly one of the world’s larger distributors of child porn. It could even be about Tor itself.

The reason for my uncertainty is that it is utterly incoherent. It talks about open-source browsers, and “replacement” open-source browsers quickly appearing to continue the illegal trade. But this is nonsensical. The only non-open-source browser in common use today is the much-in-decline Internet Explorer; while Chrome and Safari are technically closed source, they are substantially open source. Firefox is entirely open source. And there’s nothing illegal about open source browsers. I can only imagine that by “open source browsers” he means “Tor network sites”.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for the recent shutdown of the Silk Road and Freedom Hosting. Freedom Hosting was indeed a big child porn distributor, and Silk Road’s operator was a very nasty piece of work.

I’m not even worried that the government will make bad legislation off the back of this. When it comes to it, the government will not be banning Google’s browser on the say-so of an obscure TD.

My issue is more the amazing carelessness. It would have taken O’Donovan five minutes of reading Wikipedia to, if not have a clear picture of what was going on, at least know better than to write what he did. The computer-machines seem to be a strange focal point of governmental cluelessness; while TDs writing on other subjects are hardly perfect, you’re not going to get James Reilly writing a piece advocating the use of radium to cure The Humours, or something, nor will you find Alan Shatter extolling the virtues of the Freeman on the Land philosophy. This isn’t the first time, though, that a TD has spouted complete nonsense about computers.

It makes it all the worse that O’Donovan is on the Communications Committee. You’d expect he could at least put in a little effort on what his job is supposed to be. I don’t really expect him to know this stuff, though it’d be a nice bonus, but you’d think he could look up what the words mean. I mean, what are we paying him for? Is this all a backbencher does, write nonsensical letters about something they half-remember from a tabloid?

It’s also, of course, embarrassing; you can’t really go on about the Knowledge Economy on the one hand and do this sort of thing on the other. Not really good enough, Fine Gael.


O’Donovan calls for crackdown on internet browsers and payment systems which facilitate illegal activity (Fine Gael)

The government’s IT credibility problem (Robert Synnott)

Previously: Fidema: The Frape Tape


A documentary by Mother London following the trials and tribulations of five internet addicts who go offline for a week.

…have we become addicted to the internet? And if we have, what would happen if 5 digital natives were forced to go cold turkey for a week? Would it be reminiscent of a scene from Trainspotting? Or would they regress to some kind of IRL utopia?


reach out(The ReachOut.com Technology for Wellbeing conference in Dublin this week. ReachOut.com is an online help service for teens.)


Not all bad

Naoise Kavanagh writes:

Over the last two days ReachOut.com held a Technology for Well-Being conference in Dublin. It was a mix of panel discussions, plenary talks and workshop style sessions with most (not all) of the attendees working in the area of mental health in Ireland.

It was great to see that a number of these organisations use technology to reach both the general public and those in need, with a diverse offering of mental health services.

There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room for different approaches to mental health information and services. This was all with full acknowledgement that there are many people who will never access traditional services, no matter what their need is.

You only need to check out #T4WB13 tweets to see how it was going down with the audience (it was trending above Arthur’s Day for while, which was a nice bonus).

In a time where we continuously see images of people with their head in their hands alongside stories of depression and anxiety, it was so encouraging to feel the positive energy about the reach and use of technology in the area of mental health.

Negative press about cyberbullying, trolling and our lack of privacy online was counterbalanced by strong evidence of successful online spaces allowing users to access support and information anonymously and safely.
The internet provides a sense of community to people who otherwise can feel isolated, and benefit from the sharing of personal stories.

Here’s to ensuring the appetite for collaboration produces some more effective technology projects, that will go a long way to helping improve the well-being of people in Ireland.
See you all at #T4WB14?


Pic: Maria O’Donoghue