Vulcan Insight

Will Ireland be Europe’s Big Brother?

28 June 2019

The Irish Regulatory Watchdog, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), have announced new powers to tackle harmful video content online. Dublin is home to the European Headquarters of Facebook, Twitter and Google and under new proposals being considered by the government, BAI will be responsible for regulating harmful video content.

In the past number of months, Ireland has encountered intensified pressure from Member States to implement these new EU rules amid increasing concern over harmful content on platforms. In Ireland, following the murder of young teenager Ana Kriegl by two teenage boys, images surfaced on social media platforms illegally identifying Boy A and Boy B. Under Irish law, the boys could not be identified as they are both minors. The Central Criminal Court summoned representatives from both Twitter and Facebook to clarify why images of Boy A and Boy B appeared on their platforms.

Under the current E-Commerce Directive 2000, social media platforms are not liable for material posted online. The European legislation has come under increased scrutiny since the New Zealand terror attack video was live-streamed and re-uploaded for days after the attack in Christchurch.

Michael O’Keeffe, CEO of BAI, highlighted several measures to prevent the presence of harmful content online. These measures include age verification systems, content rating systems and a robust complaints resolution system.

The BAI further suggests that an Irish Online Safety Commissioner, as recommended earlier this year by Communications Minister Richard Bruton, would form part of the expanded regulator. The BAI proposes that the Online Safety Commissioner should have three primary responsibilities: serving removal notices on behalf of Irish residents that have been directly affected by harmful online content; enforcing online safety codes; promoting online safety. This is a national initiative focused on individual harm such as bullying and is separate from the EU-wide regulation of video content.


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