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Social media users could be forced to hand over passport to sign up to sites

EU should force tech giants to ask for public service cards as a register, demands minister


Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Minister for Older People Jim Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

Social media users could be forced to hand over passport or public service card details to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under radical new plans aimed at stamping out online bullying and trolling.

Minister for Older People Jim Daly has written to the EU Commission demanding new Europe-wide laws which would make tech giants more responsible for faceless trolls and paedophiles who use their websites to stalk victims.

In a letter to Mariya Gabriel, the Digital Economy and Society Commissioner, Mr Daly insisted the EU should be doing more to make the internet a safer place for children.

"I urge you commissioner to consider a new policy that will require multinationals, such as Facebook, to introduce new and stronger methods of authenticating accounts created on their platforms," the minister said.

He added that the ease with which users could set up accounts was "extremely worrying" and insisted more should be done to ensure accounts were authentic, and that those creating them were above the required age for registering.

"One such method I would encourage would be the introduction of a cross-check with a social security number as per the Irish public service card, which would confirm a person's date of birth, or a passport number in order to create an account," he said.

"This would not limit people creating multiple profiles, rather it would clearly create a link between all online accounts that person may have," he added.

Mr Daly said the EU should take a "strong stance" on the issue and force multi-billion euro tech companies to take more responsibility for the content on their websites.

"I do not want to restrict EU citizens' access to the internet but rather place more emphasis on multinational corporations to take more responsibility in being proactive with offering a secure service and to safeguard our children," he added.

The minister said there were serious problems worldwide over the increase in fake online social media accounts, which were used to "exploit those most vulnerable in our society". He also has an issue with minors being able to sign up to websites without providing any form of identification.

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"Children who use these platforms cannot escape the dark side of the worldwide web as they continue to ping even as they try to sleep at night, there is no escaping the online bully," he said.

Mr Daly previously drafted legislation to make it illegal for parents to allow their children to have unlimited access to the worldwide web without adult supervision.

The minister said the legislation was not aimed at parents but was proposed in an effort to equip parents with the tools to say no to children demanding access to the internet.

"The peer pressure nowadays for a child to own a smart phone at eight or nine years of age, now typically bought with Communion money, is a significant challenge for parents to overcome," he said.

A cross-departmental group, including Mr Daly, has begun meeting to discuss online safety for children and the implementation of EU directives in the area of online behaviour.

The group is being led by Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and includes Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

The EU Commission has begun a consultation process on tackling the rise of 'fake news' and recently published a communication on cracking down on the amount of illegal content online.

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