Friday 6 December 2019

Ireland's social media rules to be 'robust'

Richard Bruton. Photo: Owen Breslin
Richard Bruton. Photo: Owen Breslin

Samantha McCaughren, Business Editor

New rules for the social media giants based in Ireland will be "robust" and give a media commission "significant enforcement powers", according to the Department of Communications.

Ireland is coming under increasing pressure from other EU member states to move on regulation of content on the large social media platforms headquartered here, such as Facebook.

In a statement, the department said Minister Richard Bruton, pictured, intends to bring a general scheme of the Bill to Government by the end of the year.

The new regulatory system "will address the proliferation of harmful online content, including cyberbullying material, alongside the design and processes adopted by online services which lead to the proliferation of such material".

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"The regulator will have a number of significant compliance and enforcement powers, including the power to audit the compliance of services, publication of the fact of non-compliance, the power to issue administrative fines and the power to block offending services in extreme cases," the department said.

Owen Bennett, internet policy manager with Mozilla Corporation, told the Sunday Independent that there is a growing perception among some EU member states that Ireland's approach to enforcement is too light-touch.

Mozilla Corporation is a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to keep the internet "a global public resource open to all".

At the moment, companies are regulated in the country they are based in, under an EU rule known as the country-of-origin principle, which is why so much responsibility now lies with Ireland.

Bennett said: "Some big member states (eg, France) would like to secure greater power to regulate the tech companies that are offering services in their jurisdiction, even if established abroad (they call this the country-of-destination principle)."

However, a spokesman for the Department of Communications said that it was moving on changes to the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which deals with video content.

He said: "Legislation will set a clear expectation for online platforms to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the users of their service.

"A regulator, an online safety commissioner, as part of a wider media commission, would oversee the new system."

Sunday Indo Business

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