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'Ireland's laws should be updated to reflect technology' - calls for change after sharing of M50 crash photo


The AA's Conor Faughnan.

The AA's Conor Faughnan.

The AA's Conor Faughnan.

The country's laws should be updated to reflect technology, AA Roadwatch's Conor Faughnan has said in response to graphic images of a fatal car crash being shared online.

The well-known road safety and traffic expert slammed the behaviour of some people after a horrific road crash on the M50 yesterday which saw a woman lose her life.

Members of the public took graphic images of the immediate aftermath of the incident and shared them online and on the Whatsapp messaging service.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme, Mr Faughnan said Ireland's laws need to urgently catch up with our technology.

"There is an element of social responsibility, but when it comes to taking photos while rubbernecking, upskirting and drones over garden hedges, we need to update our laws," he said.

"Our law is currently blind to this. Everyone can morally accept what happened yesterday was wrong, but in Ireland we're behind the curve. Our laws are not keeping up."

He continued; "Within minutes photos were being shared. The genie was out of the bottle. It went viral from people sharing it amongst themselves. It's very distressing and on reflection, I'm sure most reasonable people can agree that anyone who shared this image committed an offence against common decency and taste.

"It's the bystander effect and people will behave like that. It's something in society. We need to learn how to use this new technology.

"Just because you can see something, doesn't mean you should share it," he continued.

"We should have laws, there are things we can do to control this behaviour.

"We need our laws to catch up with our technology, it's running far ahead."

Mr Faughnan said he is sure everyone involved is now "reflecting 24 hours later".

"What is it in the human psyche that allows people to do this?" he asked.

"We all agree it's unacceptable. It is particularly gruesome and can cause enormous upset to the family, our deepest sympathies go to this woman's family and friends."

The AA Roadwatch team regularly receive information from the public on road incidents, and Mr Faughnan said it was within minutes that they received the graphic images on Twitter.

"We blocked the individual who sent them to us," he said, adding that they cannot be sure of who took the original image.

"It has added a lot of distress to the grieving family."

Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy has also called for regulations to prevent content like this being shared online.

"This week alone, family and friends who have to come to terms with the loss of a loved one should not have to hear that voyeurs are sending images through WhatsApp.

"We must have modern rules and regulations for social media that respect human decency and the privacy of other individuals. If traditional media can abide by this and have socially accepted boundaries in which they operate while still providing all with a public service, social media companies must also.

"They are publishers and have to be responsible as do those who use their products and services," the Dublin South-West TD said.

Online Editors