Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | Protection from online bullying or abuse through social media
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which she remains satisfied that adequate precautions are taken to protect the public from online bullying or abuse through social media or otherwise; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, which was signed into law on 10 December 2022, will establish a multi-person media commission (to be known as Coimisiún na Meán) including an Online Safety Commissioner, dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, establish regulatory frameworks for online safety and the regulation of audiovisual media services, and transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
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.
Online safety codes will ensure that designated online services take appropriate measures to reduce the availability of content on their services which is linked to one or more of 42 existing criminal offences. Such content will include, for example, material which is connected to relevant offences under the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020, or Coco’s Law. It is intended that this will have the effect of tackling 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 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. Importantly, this category of content will be subject to a risk of harm test which is set out in the Act.
Finally, under the Act, in the event of a failure to comply with a relevant online safety code, and subject to Court approval, Coimisiún na Meán will have the power to sanction non-compliant designated online services, including through financial sanctions of up to €20 million or 10% of turnover.
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.
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