Government must clarify its stance on online safety watchdog – Denise Mitchell TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Denise Mitchell TD has called on the Government to clarify its stance on the creation of an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner.
Her call came amid contradictory comments from the Taoiseach and Communications Minister in recent weeks on plans for the online safety watchdog as recommended by the Law Reform Commission.
Speaking from the BT Young Scientist Exhibition at the RDS, Deputy Mitchell said:
“There is a lot of contradictory statements and comments coming from Government on the issue of a Digital Safety Commissioner, so we need a definitive answer on whether they are going ahead with this proposal or whether it has been shelved.
"It has long been Sinn Féin’s belief that such and office would have responsibility for promoting digital safety online, reviewing and regulating harmful digital communications on the internet as well as other digital platforms with the intention of establishing safer and healthier attitudes for all users of digital platforms.
"My colleague Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has also produced a Bill on this issue.”
Deputy Mitchell said the she believes an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner should be about promoting “active online citizenship and promoting a positive online culture” as well as ensuring the Government and social media networks live up to their responsibility of protecting children online:
“We want to make sure that the internet, apps, and other related technologies and platforms are increasingly hospitable for all users; and provide a safer experience, particularly for more vulnerable users and children.
“Online digital technology is playing an increasing major role in the lives of our young people. This is of tremendous benefit when it comes to education.
"Indeed, here at the RDS today we are seeing how digital and online applications are of such benefit to young people when it comes to research, education and the sharing of knowledge.
“However, there are also dangers. And the best way to overcome those dangers is through increased education and also by making sure that young people as well as their parents, educators and others who may not be as digitally-savvy, have access to all the information and advice they need when it comes to online safety.
“The Government needs to explain very clearly whether or not it is going ahead with these plans to safeguard children online”.