Ireland: New Law To Protect Children And General Public Online

Online video-sharing and platform providers that have head offices here should take note; they may fall under the purview of the Online Safety Act (Act). 

Minister Richard Bruton TD announced that he will introduce the Act to improve online safety and 'ensure that children can be protected online'. The Act also aims to implement changes required under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The deadline to implement changes under the AVMSD is 19 September 2020.

The Act would introduce online safety rules applicable to Irish residents. These include the regulation of video sharing platforms like YouTube; on demand services like RTE Player; Virgin Media Player; iTunes; and also include minor changes to the regulation of traditional TV.

Expansion of content regulation to apply to all online platforms and not just video sharing platform services

The revised AVMSD regulates video sharing platform services, or VSPs, for the first time. The Act proposes to expand the application of these rules to apply not only to VSPs, but also to platforms in respect of other user-generated content for Irish residents. User-generated content would include photos, comments and other material which is not audio-visual in nature.

Under the Act, VSPs and other online platforms would have to take measures to protect and enforce these principles through their terms with both users and advertisers, which include:

  • Minors from potentially harmful content
  • The general public from content containing incitement to violence or hatred, and
  • The general public from content, the distribution of which constitutes is a criminal offence under EU law, including content containing provocation to commit a terrorist offence, offences concerning child sexual abuse material or concerning racism and xenophobia.

 VSPs and online platforms may also be required to:

  • Operate an online safety code, which could be certified as 'fit for purpose' by a regulator or required to change
  • Build safety into the design of the platforms through technology and human intervention
  • Provide a transparent and easy to use system for users to flag potentially breaching content
  • Implement user-led content rating systems
  • Age verification and parental control systems to users
  • Provide a complaints mechanism

Harmful content

The Minister specifically identified three types of material which could be included in a definition of harmful content including:

  • Serious cyber bullying, including content which is seriously threatening, seriously intimidating, seriously harassing or seriously humiliating
  • Material which promotes self-harm or suicide, and
  • Material designed to encourage prolonged nutritional deprivation that would have the effect of exposing a person to risk of death or endangering health

Proposed Online Safety Commissioner

The Act may also introduce a Commissioner with extensive powers including to:

  • Require regular reports from industry
  • Audit
  • Require content takedown within a set timeframe
  • Enforcement power including the  power to seek court injunctions
  • Impose administrative fines
  • Publish the fact that a service has failed to comply or co-operate, and
  • Seek that criminal proceedings be brought against a service provider

Changes in regulation of linear and non-linear services - TV versus on-demand services

An additional important change for Ireland is the requirement to more closely monitor the activities of on-demand services like those offered by RTE Player, Virgin Media Player and iTunes. The Minister is considering the type of relationship an on-demand service established in Ireland and the Department should have, and whether the same content rules should apply to both services.

Proposed regulatory structure

The Act proposes to set up a regulatory structure to oversee in one of two ways:

  • A multi-person commission akin to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, or
  • Two regulatory bodies: one to oversee content under editorial control and the other to regulate online safety

Although the Act may propose to criminalise additional behaviour, the regulator would not have a role in relation to prosecution of individuals for disseminating illegal content.

Consultation period

A short 6 week consultation period on the options proposed by the Minister will end on close of business, 15 April 2019. After the consultation period, the Minister will introduce a draft heads of bill to government. 

The EU and other jurisdictions

Other jurisdictions are taking similar action to prevent harmful content online, specifically to protect children. The Department cited the establishment of the eSafety Commissioner in Australia and the Harmful Digital Communications act 2015 in New Zealand as comparisons.  

The EU Commission recently established the Expert Group on Safer Internet for Children. The group will develop best practice principles to implement across EU member states to keep children safe when using the internet.

Comment

The introduction or the Act is in step with regulatory activity in other jurisdictions.

However, preventing the dissemination of harmful content while also respecting legitimate speech and the traditional immunities afforded to online service providers will take time to work through. The Act should be technology neutral, align with internationally-accepted standards for child safety online, and not be reactionary. As the Department itself notes, for a regulator's powers and sanctions to be effective and proportionate, the obligations on service providers and their bases must be clear. Fast-tracking the legislation to achieve these objectives may not be the best way forward.

Interested parties can make submissions to the consultation process here

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
24 Sep 2019, Seminar, Dublin, Ireland

Our Annual Insurance Seminar takes place on Tuesday 24 September. At this seminar we will look at injuries, including workplace injuries, rehabilitation and return to work.

24 Sep 2019, Seminar, Dublin, Ireland

Our Annual Insurance Seminar takes place on Tuesday 24 September. At this seminar we will look at injuries, including workplace injuries, rehabilitation and return to work.

29 Oct 2019, Workshop, Dublin, Ireland

Our second in-depth training session of 2019 for Company Directors will take place on Tuesday 29 October in our offices on Barrow Street.

 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions