News

  • Press Release: “Bin The Bill” Campaign Launched

    FSI Press Release Monday, January 15th 2024

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

    ‘Bin The Bill’ Campaign Launched Against Irish Hate Speech Bill

    Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is proud to premiere our new campaign, entitled ‘Bin the Bill’, to raise awareness about the Irish government’s looming plans for onerous anti-free speech legislation. The campaign has already attracted international attention from public figures such as Elon Musk.

    Across Ireland our message will be displayed on billboards and social media platforms informing the Irish public of the threat that hate speech legislation poses to their right to free expression.

    Sarah O’Reilly, CEO of FSI, said:

    “The public needs to know about how this bill will affect them and their democracy. ‘Bin the Bill’ aims to do just that. We hope that when citizens take notice of what is happening, TDs and Senators will too.”


    “The government’s proposed hate speech regulations are the single biggest threat facing free speech in Ireland today. Helen McEntee’s legislation threatens to criminalise individual citizens for the mere possession of material deemed to be offensive, even if they had no intention of sharing it with others if they cannot prove this to be the case. This innocent until proven guilty framework is fundamentally incompatible with the principles of our democracy.

    Worryingly, this bill is likely to also impact freedom of speech across Europe and even the world, as it will make social media firms like X and Meta beholden to Irish censors. We have seen with the likes of GDPR how such companies will frequently apply laws passed in Europe to their worldwide user base. While we are encouraged by statements from digital leaders such as Elon Musk promising to protect free speech online, this bill nevertheless represents an international threat on numerous online platforms.”

    As part of this media campaign, our spokespeople will be available for interviews and clarifications and can be reached at info@freespeechireland.ie.

    Signed,

    The Board
    Free Speech Ireland
    15 January 2024


    Background:

    • Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is a free speech advocacy group founded in 2018 to protect the constitutional right to free speech against corporate censorship and state hate measures.
    • As part of its civil society outreach FSI has hosted events with multiple members of the Oireachtas, academics, activists and cultural events, most recently with our September 2023 conference “Ireland Uncensored”
    • The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 (“the Bill”) is at the third stage of the Irish Senate and would give the state the right to seize personal electronic devices and prescribe prison sentences for those guilty of hate speech or deemed to be in possession of hateful material, even if they had no intent on distributing it. This could undermine the presumption of innocence.
    • FSI believes the Bill undermines freedom of speech in Ireland, allowing for individuals to be prosecuted for perceived hate speech on politically-motivated grounds. The perception of hatred by a third party could also suffice for prosecution.
    • FSI has been campaigning against the Bill since 2022,  demanding the complete withdrawal of this Bill. We welcome the implementation of greater guarantees for freedom of speech in Ireland. This is especially important as Ireland is the European HQ for many social media platforms. Laws that restrict freedom of speech in Ireland could impact online users globally.
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