Irish internet service providers (ISPs) have been told they can’t block or block sites without users’ permission.
The Government is considering a number of different measures to combat internet piracy and other harmful online behaviour.
But the issue of how to deal with the internet has been on the minds of many in recent weeks as the Government grapples with a spike in online copyright infringement.
The internet group The Box has been asking the Government to regulate internet providers (IPs) for some time, urging them to provide a “reasonable” level of internet connectivity and to treat content creators fairly.
The Box wants the Government “to stop blocking and throttling internet users’ access to the internet”.
The group said this could include limiting access to certain content and sites and to providing an “acceptable” level network bandwidth.
The group also wants ISPs to provide an internet connection for all their customers.
The ISP’s are expected to provide details of their plans for the year starting next week.
Mr Flanagan said that if ISPs continue to block and block access to content, “then the internet becomes a free-for-all where people can access pirated content without having any of the protection that they would expect.”
He said the Government was working to “put in place the best possible regulatory regime to protect consumers and the internet.”
Mr Flanigan said that the ISP’s should be able to set their own service levels.
But if they don’t have that level of capacity, then the ISPs “are now required to provide some level of connectivity to their customers, that is, at least, to some extent”.
He said he hoped the Government would “work with the ISPs to achieve a reasonable level of service” by the end of the year.
The Internet group said that it had also urged the Government not to impose a blanket ban on all internet access services.
This could mean only providing certain services to certain customers.
However, the group also said that ISPs should not be allowed to block or slow down internet access to “any service that is not a regulated service”.
However, Mr Flangan said the Internet Group did not expect this to happen.
The groups main recommendation was that the Government create an online filter service.
He said that in the interim, the Government should consult the ISPs and other providers before making any further changes to the existing rules.