Date01 January 2015
The Honourable Mr Justice Michael Peart
Judge of the Court of Appeal of Ireland
Once again it is my great pleasure to be asked to contribute a Foreword to
the 2015 volume of the Hibernian Law Journal which by now has found
its rightful place alongside other leading law journals. Each year seems to
bring the Journal to another level, and this year is no exception.
It is no surprise that there should be a number of articles which in one
way or another stem from the existence of the internet, and the many
challenges to courts and legislators which this evidence of man’s seemingly
innite capacity to imagine and create has thrown up.
An undoubted feature of modern life is the extent to which young people
in particular socially interact online through well-known social media sites.
Their social footprint is placed indelibly somewhere out there. But who
has ownership of that footprint after its owner has died? Does that issue
need to be regulated, and if so, how? What if any death policies do social
media providers have in this regard? These and other interesting issues are
discussed by Rebecca Keating in her article entitled ‘Kicking the Digital
Another such topic is the Future of Cloud Technology regulation and
whether, as Alex Towers ponders, such regulation might be seen by the
industry as a ‘dark cloud’ serving only to stie innovation. Another is the
vexed question of service providers’ liability for defamatory online content,
and in his article ‘Is the Writing on the Wall for Online Service Providers’
Hugh McCarthy considers the e-Commerce Directive, the leading caselaw
from the CJEU, and the Irish and UK domestic transposing instruments. He
discusses in great detail the ECtHR decision in Del AS v. Estonia and its
implications for ISPs, as well as the decision of the United States Court of
Appeal (Sixth Circuit) in Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings,
LLC and its upholding of a broad immunity from suit under section 230 of
the US Communications Decency Act 1996.
I refer to these particular articles only to demonstrate the increasing
novelty of issues which will ever-increasingly challenge the judicial mind as
more and more such issues come before the courts. The judicial challenge
that these cases represent is not simply the amount and complexity of
the legislative instruments themselves, but also, particularly for older
judges perhaps, the need to acquire (even with the assistance of their
young grandchildren!) a sufcient familiarity with the new language of
social media, the technology involved, and how it all operates. It can be
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