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18 Jan 2022

Louth senator welcomes Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill

Louth senator welcomes Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill

Louth Fianna Fáil Senator, Erin McGreehan, has today welcomed news that the Government has agreed to begin the process of recruiting an Online Safety Commissioner.

This comes as the Minister with responsibility in the area received Government approval to publish the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

As part of the framework, the Commissioner will devise binding online safety codes that will set out how regulated online services, including certain social media services, are expected to deal with certain defined categories of harmful online content on their platforms. 

The Online Safety Commissioner will have a range of powers to ensure compliance, including the power to require the provision of information, to appoint authorised officers to conduct investigations and to sanction non-compliant online services, including through financial sanctions of up to €20 million or 10% of turnover.

In welcoming this announcement, Senator McGreehan said:

"Tackling this issue has been a key priority of mine since I first got involved in politics and it was one which Fianna Fáil has been spearheading since we re-entered Government in 2020.

"The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill marks a watershed moment as we move from self-regulation to an era of accountability in online safety.

"Social media has many useful functions but, sadly, some use it for bullying and intimidation and to direct abuse at individuals. These actions have cost lives.

"We regulate the public space to ensure that it functions effectively and that it is safe for everyone and the virtual world should be no different.

“Responsibility must be placed at the door of the social media companies

"I understand that the goal of the Online Safety Commissioner will be to minimise the availability of defined categories of harmful online content through binding Online Safety Codes, including certain criminal content, serious cyberbullying content and other damaging material. 

“The Commissioner will have specific regard to the effects of such content on children when defining and enforcing the Online Safety Codes.

"This Bill represents a new departure in Irish law and is emblematic of this Government’s commitment to protecting the people of Ireland, especially our children, whether offline or online through fair, rules-based and robust regulation,'' she concluded. 

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