Rules regulating social media giants aim to be ‘robust’

Richard Bruton

New rules governing social media companies based in Ireland aim to be “robust” and equip a media commission with “significant enforcement powers”, the Department of Communications has said.

It said that Minister Richard Bruton intends to bring a general scheme of the bill to the Government by the end of this year.

The envisaged regulatory system “will address the proliferation of harmful online content, including cyberbullying material, alongside the design and processes adopted by online services which lead to the proliferation of such material”.

“The regulator will have a number of significant compliance and enforcement powers, including the power to audit the compliance of services, publication of the fact of non-compliance, the power to issue administrative fines and the power to block offending services in extreme cases,” the department said.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Owen Bennett, internet policy manager at Mozilla Corporation, said: “Some big member states (eg, France) would like to secure greater power to regulate the tech companies that are offering services in their jurisdiction, even if established abroad (they call this the country-of-destination principle).”

A spokesman for the Department of Communications said it was simply acting on changes to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

He said: “Legislation will set a clear expectation for online platforms to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the users of their service.

“A regulator, an online safety commissioner, as part of a wider media commission, would oversee the new system.”

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