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Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | Engagement with media interests, protection of privacy, and protection from cyber abuse

To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent and context of any engagements she has had with media interests, with particular reference to the need to protect the privacy of the individual and protect adults, children and the vulnerable from cyber abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


Matters relating to data protection and the disclosure of personal data without authority are set out in Data Protection Act 2018, which is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice.

As regards types of cyber-abuse which do not relate to the protection of personal data, the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Act 2022 will address certain forms of harmful online content. The Act, which was signed into law on 10 December 2022, provides for the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and establishment of a new regulator, Coimisiún na Meán, which will oversee updated regulatory frameworks for broadcasting and video-on-demand service and a new regulatory framework for online safety.

It will be the role of the Online Safety Commissioner to oversee the regulatory framework for online safety. As part of the framework, the Commissioner will devise binding online safety codes that will set out how designated online services, including certain social media services, are expected to deal with defined categories of harmful online content on their platforms. This will include online content which is linked to one or more of 42 existing criminal offences, for example, that which is connected to relevant offences under the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020, or Coco’s Law. This is aimed at addressing the availability, on designated online services, of intimate images which have been shared without consent and of threatening or grossly offensive communications about, or to, another person.

The OSMR Act also provides that online safety codes may include measures that a designated online service must take to reduce the availability of online content by which a person bullies or humiliates another person.

It is the intention to commence the relevant provisions of the OSMR Act and establish Coimisiún na Meán in the coming weeks. At this time, the Online Safety Commissioner, as well as other key senior personnel including the Executive Chairperson of An Coimisiún, will be formally appointed.

Stakeholder engagement was vital to the development of the OSMR Act and this engagement will remain important going forward, particularly in the context of the work of Coimisiún na Meán and in the development of online safety codes. My Department held a public consultation to inform drafting of the proposed OSMR Bill:

The Act was subject to extensive pre-legislative scrutiny and scrutiny in both Houses of the Oireachtas as part of the legislative process, and as part of stakeholder meetings with representative organisations, industry, children’s rights organisations, and various NGOs.

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