Facebook urges delay to Ireland’s new online safety rules

19 May 2021

Image: © tashatuvango/Stock.adobe.com

The social media giant said Ireland’s Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill could overlap with the EU’s Digital Services Act.

Facebook is calling for the Irish Government to delay the introduction of new online safety rules.

The tech company said that it supports Ireland’s Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill but that the bill could conflict with the EU’s Digital Services Act, which seeks to implement new rules around content moderation and online safety.

Facebook will be represented today (19 May) before the Oireachtas Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht to discuss the legislation, which the Government hopes to have in place by the end of the year.

“Now that the full details of the scope and nature of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) are emerging, it is clear that there will be significant overlap and in places there is likely to be conflict,” the company said in its written statement to the committee, RTE reports.

Twitter, which has made similar calls for a delay, and TikTok will appear before the committee too. Twitter has also raised concerns over the level of fines that could be levelled under the new Irish law.

The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill seeks to create an Online Safety Commissioner, which Facebook said it supports but flagged that the bill, if passed, could create inconsistencies with EU law.

Online safety and content moderation have become fraught issues between tech companies and governments.

TikTok recently announced that it would create a European Transparency and Accountability Centre at its rapidly growing Dublin office to exhibit how the company manages policy and content violations on its app.

Earlier this month, a Facebook content moderator went on the record before an Oireachtas committee to recall her experiences in the job and the traumatic content that she and other workers are regularly exposed to.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, TD, has spoken with a number of Facebook content moderators and said he wrote to Facebook to express their concerns over worker wellbeing and risk assessments.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin