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A sensible balance to protect against abuse

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The failure of web and social media companies to adequately police their content has also resulted in a proposal to appoint a watchdog to take sites to court if they fail to take down harmful material. Stock Image: PA

The failure of web and social media companies to adequately police their content has also resulted in a proposal to appoint a watchdog to take sites to court if they fail to take down harmful material. Stock Image: PA

The failure of web and social media companies to adequately police their content has also resulted in a proposal to appoint a watchdog to take sites to court if they fail to take down harmful material. Stock Image: PA

Let's not be troglodytes here. The internet has unquestionably been of benefit to our modern world.

Developments in technology have brought us closer together, made it easier for us to remain in contact, do business, engage in commerce, be educated, entertained and enlightened - if we so wish.

With freedom though, comes responsibility. Unfortunately, there are distinctly negative aspects to the way some individuals treat the internet as a means to demean, take advantage of, and abuse others.

The digital technology has certainly outpaced the analogue-era legislation. The Law Reform Commission has now examined the area of digital safety and drawn up proposals to counter modern offences like revenge porn and cyber-stalking.

Not known as a phenomenon just a short time ago, intentional victim shaming, where intimate images of a person are uploaded without their consent, is a threat to the well-being and reputation of victims. It should soon be an offence.

The suggested new legislation would also deal with the illicit practice of secretly-obtained intimate images known as 'up-skirting' or 'down-blousing'. The existing offence of harassment will be expanded to include online activity.

Existing offences for sending threatening and intimidating messages will also be expanded to capture online intimidation and courts will be allowed to issue restraining orders.

The failure of web and social media companies to adequately police their content has also resulted in a proposal to appoint a watchdog to take sites to court if they fail to take down harmful material.

The Law Reform Commission has a strong record of proposing practical solutions where there is a legal vacuum.These new proposals strike a sensible balance.

There is no reason why the Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald should not act swiftly to enact laws to protect the vast majority of internet users from those who choose to abuse the privileges technology affords them.

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Tidy Towns tide comes in at last for Skerries

To the victor goes the spoils and the north county Dublin coastal town of Skerries has taken the title of Ireland's tidiest town.

It's the first time the picturesque harbour town has taken the overall prize since its first entry in 1959. The local committee observed how this award had been a long time in the making.

The Co Dublin town took the top honours in the SuperValu National Tidy Towns competition, and also took home the Tidiest Large Town award.

Ireland's Tidiest Village is Birdhill in Co Tipperary, the Tidiest Small Town is Listowel in Co Kerry and Ennis, Co Clare, is the Tidiest Large Urban Centre.

The credit goes not just to these winners, but to the volunteers in the more than 850 towns and villages across the country which entered this year's National Tidy Towns competition. Their work for their local community is often unseen and thankless, but it is enormously valuable and does a service to their area and the country as a whole as it enhances the area for locals and visitors alike.

And, maybe one day, one of those towns will be the winners.


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