Ireland to establish new online watchdog

Dublin is looking to implement new online safety measures under legislation put forward this week that will oversee streaming platforms and broadcasters. [greenbutterfly/Shutterstock]

Dublin is looking to implement new online safety measures under legislation put forward this week that will oversee streaming platforms and broadcasters.

The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will initiate the process of creating an online safety watchdog to regulate harmful online content. It will also create a Media Commission and a new role of Online Safety Commissioner to enforce the legislation and any related laws which may be passed in the future, including at the European level.

The bill “breaks new ground in regulating harmful online content for the first time”, the government says, and will be the first part of a “rolling package” of legislation by the Irish government and the EU that seeks to adapt regulation for the digital era.

The law proposes that the Commissioner be tasked with minimising harmful content online via binding Online Safety Codes. The Commission can then implement sanctions of up to €20 million, or 10% of platforms’ annual turnover, for those found not to comply.

The inclusion of an individual complaints mechanism is also due to be considered and potentially added via amendments to the bill further on in the legislative process.

Ireland’s government is not the only authority currently regulating online harms.

The EU’s Digital Services Act, which similarly seeks to regulate online service providers, saw a joint committee report on the UK’s Draft Online Safety Bill debated in parliament for the first time on Thursday.

(Molly Killeen | EURACTIV.com)

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