Sunday 20 January 2019

Cowed into subservience by the tech giants' dollar

'Mobile phone apps are posing an enormous threat to the mental health and well-being of our young people' (stock photo)
'Mobile phone apps are posing an enormous threat to the mental health and well-being of our young people' (stock photo)


Every parent's worst nightmare used to be a phrase encompassing the horrific idea of a child being abducted.

In the era of what can be described as 'anti-social networks', it now extends to the internet, where a child can be targeted anywhere by a predator who they may never come into physical contact with.

The horrific case of Matthew Horan will send a shiver down the spine of many parents who are concerned about protecting their children.

This paedophile sexually exploited girls as young as nine, and distributed thousands of child porn images. He admitted coercing the young children into sending him sexually graphic images and was described as an inadequate individual by a judge.

Horan was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after admitting to using social media apps including Instagram, Kik and Snapchat to target the young girls, as well as communicate with other depraved individuals.

Mobile phone apps are posing an enormous threat to the mental health and well-being of our young people. As the base for the European headquarters of many of the social media, internet and technology giants, Ireland is on the frontline of the battle against the abuse of technology.

Our Government though is dodging the fight, cowed into subservience by its multinational masters. Ireland Inc appears happy to pick up the cheque from PAYE and corporation tax, but does little to muzzle these vehiles.

The influence of the technology giants is evident in the level of access they have to the corridors of power.

Once again, the Government is spinning that a digital media watchdog in charge of child protection is on the way.

Any day now...

Struggling minister with a hodge-podge solution

Struggling Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty appears to have replaced one can of worms with another in her tinkering with the State pensions system.

In an effort to close off the so-called 'bonkers' pension anomaly that saw tens of thousands of pensioners lose out on payment, she is bringing in a new system.

The Total Contributions Approach (TCA) will base pension entitlements on how much a person pays in PRSI over their lifetime. At the moment, pensions are based on 'yearly averages' of contributions made by a person during their time working.

But now it seems workers who retire after 2020 will lose out on their expected pension as a result of the proposed changes to the payment system.

Speaking this week, Ms Doherty said the TCA approach "will ensure that a person's pension payments reflect more fully and fairly a person's lifetime contributions history".

The approach suggests there will be winners and losers as a result of the change. The Government will argue the proposals are not finalised and there will be a period of consultation before any reforms are made.

The reforms have sparked fears that significant numbers of older people will lose out financially.

Fianna Fáil's welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea is right to seek some clarification in a bid to assuage the confusion.

The minister has put out a hodge-podge of a solution that throws up more questions than answers.

Irish Independent

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