NEW BILL SET TO CREATE SHOCKWAVES ONLINE
The online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a major breakthrough for regulating harmful online content. The Bill creates a Media Commission and a new role of Online Safety Commissioner to enforce the legislation. Any non-compliance with online safety codes could significantly impact platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Commissioner will draw up rules around how social media services should deal with harmful online content. The Media Commission will take on the current functions of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and sanctions may be imposed by the Media Commission, subject to court approval, of up to €20 million or 10% of turnover in respect of non-compliance.
Harmful online content is defined in the Bill as including:
More categories can be added over time. In circumstances where it is unclear whether the content is harmful online content, a risk test will be implemented where it will be determined on the balance of probabilities.
This new Bill comes not long after the enactment of the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 also known as Coco’s Law. This Act criminalises the non-consensual distribution or threat of distribution of intimate images. It also criminalises publishing or sending threatening or grossly offensive communications. The Act introduces liability for companies or employers where such conduct contravenes the Act and where such actions are committed in the course of a person’s employment. These new Bills and Acts can only be seen as a move forward in creating accountability online.
For further information or advice on any of the above, please contact our office.
3 March 2022