Coimisiún na Meán opens public consultation on Ireland’s first Online Safety Code

Consultation on binding rules for video-sharing platforms to keep adults and children safe online

Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services, and online media, and supporting media development, has today (08.12.23) opened a public consultation on its draft Online Safety Code for video-sharing platform services.

After consultation, the finalised Code will form part of Ireland’s overall online safety framework, making digital services legally accountable for how they keep people safe online. This framework will also include the EU Digital Services Act and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation, enforced in Ireland by Coimisiún na Meán.

The draft Code sets out measures that designated video-sharing platforms will be obliged to implement to keep their users, especially children, safe online. These platforms will have to protect children from specific types of harmful content.  This includes cyberbullying; online content that promotes or encourages a feeding or eating disorder; and online content that promotes or encourages self-harm or suicide. The measures include using robust age verification technology to make sure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content, such as pornography. As part of these measures, parents must also be given the tools to ensure that children do not encounter illegal or harmful content online.

Platforms will have to prevent the uploading or sharing of a range of illegal content, including incitement to hatred or violence. They will also have to provide media literacy tools for users, which can help people recognise disinformation and misinformation.

Once finalised, the Code will be legally binding on designated video-sharing platforms based in Ireland. Coimisiún na Meán will be able to impose fines of up to €20 million for breaches of the Code.

Commenting, Online Safety Commissioner, Niamh Hodnett said: “Coimisiún na Meán is determined to use its full suite of powers to keep people safe online. The publication of the draft Code is a milestone in the move from self-regulation by platforms to effective regulation.  The draft Code was informed by the views gathered as part of a call for inputs during the summer from civil society organisations and industry. These insights were extremely valuable in helping us to develop a robust code. We are now inviting members of the public to have their say in this critical part of our new online safety regime.”

She added: “Once the consultation closes, we will move to finalise Ireland’s first online safety code. We will be seeking approval from the European Commission to implement the code.  This effective regulation of video-sharing platforms will significantly reduce the potential harms that these services can cause to children and young people.”

The consultation is open for responses until Friday, 19th January 2024. The draft Code and the consultation document can be found here.

Read more here.

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