Facebook says that Ireland should reconsider introducing an upcoming national online safety law because it is likely to clash with binding EU law currently being passed.
In a submission to an Oireachtas Committee, Facebook’s policy directors say there are 17 different areas in which the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Bill might fall foul of the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA) from the EU.
“Given the significant overlap in both timing and scope between the [Irish online safety bill] and the DSA, serious consideration should be given by the Government to pausing progress on the [bill] and waiting until the DSA is adopted to avoid unnecessary duplication of work and ensure that consistency between the two regimes can be achieved,” said Facebook’s head of public policy for Facebook, Dualta O’Broin.
The social media giant also believes that enactment and implementation of the online safety bill’s regulatory rules won’t now happen in Ireland until at least 2023 because of complicated timetabling and legislative processes.
“Our current estimate for the passage of the OSMR Bill is that it will not pass before March 2022,” said Facebook’s Oireachtas Committee submission. “This means that the establishment of the Media Commission, appointment of an Online Safety Commissioner and the full implementation of the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive is unlikely to take effect until late 2023 or early 2024.”
A spokesperson for the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, who is overseeing the introduction of the safety commissioner and who published the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill last December, said that delays had occurred but that her department still hopes to put the safety commission in place next year.
“Due to the unusual circumstances of 2020, roughly 23 member states, including Ireland, had not yet transposed the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into Irish law by the end of that year,” the spokesperson said.
“In order to give proper effect to the Directive in Ireland, it has been necessary to revise and make substantial amendments to Ireland’s current broadcasting and media law regulatory framework.
"This has included substantial revision to current regulatory structures (which has involved extensive work and consultation with stakeholders) in order to ensure that the provisions of the Directive are properly and effectively transposed in this jurisdiction.
“While the intention is to publish and enact the OSMR Bill this year, the timing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee report will impact on this indicative timeline. It is intended that the Media Commission, including an Online Safety Commissioner, will be formally established in 2022.”