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Adams challenges Taoiseach’s account on Digital Safety Commissioner

17 January, 2018 - by Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his concern at the response he received yesterday from an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the appointment of a Digital Safety Commissioner to protect children against cyber bullying and online predators. Taoiseach Varadkar’s remarks in the Dáil directly contradict media reports of comments he made just before Christmas.

Teachta Adams said:

“Online digital technology is playing an increasingly major role in the lives of our young people. It is a tremendous educational resource. However, we also know that there has been a significant increase in cyber bullying directed at children, as well as online predators. This is an important issue.

“Yesterday, the Taoiseach appeared confused about whether the government has or has not taken a decision on establishing a digital safety commissioner or to legislate for one. Taoiseach Varadkar said he could be mistaken and that he would have to check but he said he was not opposed to the proposal, didn’t recall having seen a proposal, or of it being approved by government.

“This is not what the Taoiseach is reported to have told the media in December. In the Sunday Independent as reported in their edition of December 24th last, the Taoiseach said the government ‘had considered appointing a digital safety commission who would have the power to force social media companies to remove offensive content’.

“The Taoiseach also said that he had ‘decided at the moment not to go for that’. Instead, he said the government’s approach was to ask the tech companies to police themselves.

“These positions directly contradict each other. The Taoiseach needs to clarify as quickly as possible which account is the truth.

“The Law Reform Commission recommended an online safety watchdog and the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) supports the introduction of a Digital Safety Commissioner. Sinn Féin supports the creation of a Commissioner.

“Almost every day, there are reports of online abuse, bullying or of sexual predators, mostly aimed at young people. A digital safety commissioner would have responsibility for promoting digital safety online, reviewing and regulating harmful digital communications on the internet as well as other digital platforms. The government should move quickly to introducing the necessary legislation to establish a digital safety commissioner.”

Note: Please see attached the  Digital Safety Commissioner Bill as introduced by Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

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