A Week of Tweets Hacks Texts & Rights

Today's Marian Finucane radio show was very relevant to my proposal to elevate digital to a higher level of national importance. Guests included Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Helen Shaw of Athena Media.

The sense of déjà vu deepened as the programme proceeded. It vindicated a lot of what I’ve been saying and makes me even more determined and more angry about the way in which yet another Government is paying lip service to digital.

Almost every news item covered during the programme had an underlying digital theme – Tweets, hacking, copyright, texting, data protection ... the list went on. Eamon Ryan was first to spot the connection, saying that new digital technologies had changed everything. Helen Shaw asked which Government department was responsible for digital to which the unanimous answer was “several”.

This prompted Eamon Ryan to propose a cross-Government department to develop an integrated strategy for the Internet for media and enterprise, covering everything. That idea sounds strangely familiar to me, mainly because it's in my strategic proposal to the Taoiseach - I'm certainly with you on that one Eamon! Pat Rabbitte replied that to his knowledge this had never been achieved in any jurisdiction anywhere. I don't know how he can say that for certain, but even if it's true, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do it here.

In relation to the potential extradition of the two Irish hackers Pat Rabbitte quipped “we can’t afford to be losing talent like that” - if only he felt the same way about me - while Helen Shaw said that if they aren’t extradited, they should be given jobs in Government. Maybe she can put my name forward as well :-)

Despite assurances from Pat Rabbitte that there are talks going on with Richard Bruton, this isn't very reassuring as Richard Bruton doesn't know much about digital. Helen wasn’t convinced either, believing there’s a gap in the Government’s thinking around the Internet and its related issues. Ironically she cited Australia as a country that took steps to address broadcasting and Internet years ago – whereas Ireland left it off the agenda.

Just as the conversation was getting interesting, Marian Finucane announced she was going back to the quill and forced an ad break, which broke the momentum. For those who want to listen, the digital discussion starts at 01:17:15. The programme link is http://bit.ly/wE731u


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