ChannelIsles.net (part of the Island Networks group) has moved to block the use of .gg (Guernsey) and .je (Jersey) web addresses by websites that seek to promote suicide and self-harm.
It is already a condition of registering a local Channel Island web address that they may not be used for any illegal purpose nor to infringe the rights of others.
After concerns recently expressed in the UK regarding the activities of a website linked to 50 deaths, directors at Island Networks reviewed the law in both Bailiwicks, with the assistance of the organisation’s legal advisers, and found that (unlike the position in the UK which clearly and directly criminalises encouraging suicide under a 2009 amendment to the Suicide Act) the legal position in the Islands regarding remains somewhat unclear.
ChannelIsles.net’s action is aimed at discouraging pro-suicide websites from moving their operations to Guernsey or Jersey web addresses when they find themselves banned elsewhere.
It is also understood that Ofcom UK (which has some regulatory responsibilities in the Crown Dependencies, for example on broadcasting) have recently said that they intend to block pro-suicide sites under new powers given to them by the Online Safety Act.
As a conclusion from the review, the company has now published amended terms and conditions for domain address registration, which, with immediate effect, will explicitly disallow the use of .gg and .je names for such websites, in order to close the loophole that it appears the existing law might provide.
Island Networks founder Dr Nigel Roberts said: “This is something I have personally pushed for – I have myself experienced the hurt and loss that both suicide and attempted suicide can cause as have other people in our organisation.
“Today’s change is a small amendment, to some extent symbolic, but if just one person stops to think, or this stops someone else encouraging a suicide, it will 110% have been the right thing to do.”
The organisation have made it clear, that today’s move will not affect any sites that campaign for legal reform, such as in the area of assisted dying, and invite comments anyone who has any concerns of any kind to contact them via their website.