The establishment of online safety regulations must be treated as a matter of urgency for Ireland despite warnings from social media giants, a Fine Gael TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Social Media, has said Ireland must prioritise its own legislation around online safety and media regulation following Facebook’s assertion that Ireland should pause work on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill until similar EU laws are finalised.
Deputy Higgins said: “We are a global hub for many social media and tech companies, so it’s important that Ireland prioritises our own legislation that will protect users and develop a streamlined national approach for regulating online safety. “There’s no doubting that online safety, particularly on social media, is a global issue and it’s important that Ireland also complies with European standards for online media regulations, but there’s no reason why we can’t do that while continuing work on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. “It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.”
Deputy Higgins continued: “Once approved, the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will appoint an Online Safety Commissioner who will have the power to fine online platforms that aren’t meeting our online safety standards, giving us the ability to hold individuals accountable. “I’ve had very constructive meetings with Facebook, and they are making great progress in the areas of online safety, combatting fake news and regulating political advertising. “But today’s young people are digital natives and many are already more advanced than their parents at using technology. We need to ensure that these children are growing up in a digital world that is properly regulated,” Deputy Higgins concluded.