Sunday 21 July 2019

Google and Facebook back BAI pitch to be new online regulator

Stock photo: Reuters
Stock photo: Reuters
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Google, the owner of YouTube, has endorsed proposals that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) become the regulator for online video content across Europe.

As reported in the 'Sunday Independent', the BAI has set out its vision for regulation as an enlarged media commissioner, although some commentators have questioned its suitability for the immense task in a submission to the Government's Public Consultation on the Regulation of Harmful Content.

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Google and a number of other organisations have backed a Department of Communications proposal that the BAI take over this role, as well as that of the Online Safety Commissioner, an Irish initiative. In its submission Google said other EU states are already following that model.

"In order to ensure consistency among the different strands, it would be sensible for Ireland to follow the examples of other member states and appoint the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland as the entity responsible for the four strands. In restructuring the BAI it would be appropriate to ensure that governance structures reflect its new responsibilities, and the range of technology and industry sectors it will be regulating and with which it will interact."

The Department of Communications has proposed two options: restructuring the BAI as a media commission responsible for all online content rules; or have two regulatory bodies - a restructured BAI and another regulator responsible for video-sharing platform services (VSPs), like YouTube.

In its response, Facebook said regulation should be under the one roof. "Indeed, with the increasing convergence of services and technology it is essential to have the regulatory regimes for VSPS, ODAVMS (on demand) and linear services managed by a single body that understands the landscape and can provide a unified view," the social media giant said.

RTE's submission also backs a single regulator model.

"The present BAI model of specific committees reporting to the board rather than a multi-person commission with a commissioner for each different sector would, in RTÉ's view, ensure a more consistent approach to issues of online safety and harm, as well as ensuring consistent standards with regard to online content."

Independent News and Media, publisher of the Irish Independent, recommended that two regulatory bodies be charged with overseeing online content.

In all, 84 submissions were made. Government will ultimately make the decision.

Irish Independent

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