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Online Safety Regulator needs to be standalone office - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

24 June, 2019 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that the Broadcast Association of Ireland (BAI) is not the suitable regulator for Online Safety, and has said that there is a need for a new, stand alone regulator, with strong powers.

Speaking today Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“I disagree very much with the statements of the BAI that they believe they are fit to be a regulator for online safety.

“There is much, much more to do with online safety than Video Sharing. This is not the same as regulating broadcast media.

"They are looking at this squarely through the lens of the Audiovisual Media Directive, and while that is obviously an important element, there is a need for a much broader approach to online safety.

“Online safety involves education, it involves safety by design, it involves forms of content other than video, including material uploaded without consent, and it involves material which is potentially criminal. 

"This is a much broader sphere than the type of work the BAI is accustomed to.

“This is a huge and growing area, which policy will have to keep up with. It is the Child protection issue of our day.

"We need a standalone Digital Safety Commissioner, an office with Online safety as it’s key area of work, and which can remain responsive and at the cutting edge of new developments, which will constantly arise.

“This is what the Law Reform Commissioner proposed and it is what is in our Bill, which is unfortunately stuck at Committee Stage.

"It is also in line with the approach taken in Australia with the ESafety Commissioner, which has been a success and is what we need to learn from.

“As Dr Ciarán McMahon has said that if it was possible to regulate social media under existing bodies it would have been done already.

“So the Government needs to pursue a new office, whether it is called a Digital Safety Commissioner, or an Online Safety office, it needs to be a stand alone office, and well resourced to pursue this issue well and professionally.

“Our Bill is awaiting Committee Stage. The Government should work with it, there is no reason that it cannot. I hope the Minister will engage with it, and not drag his feet.”

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