Friday 17 January 2020

New media regulator to police video content on social sites

Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Legislation for a new regulator of video content on social media sites is to be signed off on by the Cabinet.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton will bring a memo to Cabinet today which will pave the way for the introduction of the country's first Media Commission.

The new agency will replace the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and will continue to regulate commercial and public radio and television.

However, the regulator will also police content uploaded on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Sources say the new agency may be funded by levies on the companies it regulates.

One of the aims of the agency will be to clamp down on harmful content and adult material which is being accessed by children.

Cabinet members will be asked to sign off on the heads of bill for the new regulator before the new laws are sent for pre-legislative scrutiny.

The 'Sunday Independent' previously revealed that the BAI had written to the Government seeking new powers to allow the agency become a regulator of online video content.

In a submission to the Government, the BAI said the new regulator would enforce rules requiring age verification on certain websites while also introducing strict parental controls and a robust complaints mechanism.

The BAI said it wanted to become an enlarged Media Commission with significant investigatory and compliance powers.

It would be a statutory regulator with legally enshrined enforcement powers to police the social media sites' video content.

Criminal sanctions and fines would be introduced for the most serious cases, under the BAI plan. This is the first time that a State regulator will have powers to police harmful content on social media giants.

The BAI also recommended that an Irish Online Safety Commissioner, as proposed earlier this year by Mr Bruton, would form part of the enlarged regulator.

Irish Independent

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