Online safety is an issue that needs to be prioritised due to the increasing incidence of online abuse.
I believe the Minister must have the legislation, Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, enacted at the earliest possible date.
Below reply by the Minister to a recent Parliamentary Question –
For Written Answer on : 30/07/2020
Question Number(s): 162 Question Reference(s): 20511/20
Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
[Ref No.: 20511/20]
* To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the time frame for the introduction and enactment of the online safety and media regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.
* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30th July, 2020.
(1464 Received on 7th July, 2020.)
The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was approved by Government on 9 January 2020 and subsequently published on 10 January 2020. At that time the Government also approved the detailed drafting of the proposed Bill by the Office of the Attorney General and forwarded the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for pre-legislative scrutiny. Due to the dissolution of the Dáil and Committees in January, pre-legislative scrutiny has not yet commenced. Engagement with the AGO is continuing on the detailed drafting of the Bill.
The enactment of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a commitment in the Programme for Government. At present, responsibility for the proposed Bill is being transferred to the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.
When this transfer of functions is complete, Government approval will be sought for the finalisation of General Scheme of the proposed Bill through the addition to the provisions relating to the funding of the Media Commission and the regulation of audiovisual media services. These additional provisions will then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for addition as a basis for detailed drafting and to the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is for the relevant newly formed Committee to determine whether and when to commence such scrutiny.
At this time, the finalised General Scheme will also be notified to the European Commission for a technical conformity assessment with relevant EU law regarding regulations on online services.
The proposed Bill will establish a multi-person Media Commission, 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.
The regulatory framework for online safety will be overseen by the Online Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner will have the power to designate online services for regulation and to create and enforce binding online safety codes. These will seek to minimise the availability of harmful online content through oversight of the systems that online services used to deliver and moderate content. The regulator will have the power to sanction non-compliant online services.