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Sinn Féin pressure forces Government action on Digital Safety

4 March, 2019 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that the announcement of an Online Safety Act and Commissioner, is the result of successful campaigning by online safety and childrens organisations, and political pressure from Sinn Féin.

The Cork South Central TD, who proposed the Digital Safety Commissioner Bill currently which passed second stage in the Dáil last year, was speaking after Minister Richard Bruton announced his Department was bringing forward proposals which mirror the Digital Safety Commissioner Bill.

“The ISPCC have called online safety the Child Protection issue of our time. I am glad to see the Government, after years of dragging their feet, and having failed to include it in their online safety strategy launched last summer, have finally agreed with the Sinn Féin proposal to put in place a Digital Safety Commissioner.

“Our Bill, based on a Law Reform Commission proposal, passed second stage a year ago, and is currently being considered by the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, and I understand that the Committee is likely to recommend it proceed to formal committee stage.

“The Minister has not yet made clear, why he intends to bring forward his own legislation, rather than simply working with the Committee to amend and develop upon the proposal which is already in train. It is disappointing and I am concerned that this will mean that it could be some time before this Bill is in fact enacted, and that a Commission can get up and running, given that the heads have yet to be published.

“Nonetheless this is a significant announcement, and it is Sinn Féin that has forced the pace of change in Leinster House on this issue. While much of the detail is yet to be seen, & much work is yet to be done this is a positive development.

“Well done to all those who have advocated and campaigned for this, including CyberSafe Ireland, the ISPCC, the Ombudsman for Children, journalists such as Emma Jane Hade and others. I would also commend the members of the Oireachtas Communications Committee, chaired by Hildegarde Naughton, for their engagement with my Bill.

“I look forward to working with the Minister on his proposals & will be seeking a meeting to discuss the details and areas of difference with our Bill. In my view, the Office of a Commissioner, should be a stand-alone statutory office, with real powers and teeth and the ability to fine.  He should also consult with the very successful eSafety Commissioner in Australia.”


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