By: Maura Barron | Posted on: 08 Mar 2019

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton is proposing new legislation to promote safety online, it would be designed to protect online users and in particular more vulnerable users such as children. Online content that is harmful will be addressed under the proposed new legislation, including serious cyber bullying, promotion of self-harm and material that promotes prolonged nutritional deprivation, which may have the effect of exposing a person to risk of death.

The proposed legislation would place responsibility on online operators, as part of their new responsibility they would be expected to implement an Online Safety Code for the purpose of keeping users safe online. The online operators would be obliged to have a complaints procedure, where people can request to have offensive or abusive material to be taken down from the site within a certain time period.

The proposed legislation would also allow for an Online Safety Commissioner (the “Commissioner”), part of whose role would include ensuring that the online operators Safety Code is “fit for purpose”. Users would be allowed to appeal to the Commissioner should a user be dissatisfied with the response they receive from a complaint submitted to an online operator. The Commissioner would be given powers to have an online operator remove the harmful material within a set time period. They would also have the authority to impose administrative fines in relation to failures of compliance and publish the fact that an online operator has failed to comply with the instructions of the Commissioner. Following a consultation period, Mr. Bruton will draft a Bill setting out the proposal to government.

Key Contact: Maura Barron

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