Ireland’s draft online safety code available for public feedback

8 Dec 2023


The rules would force video-sharing platforms to take steps to prevent the spread of harmful online content or risk fines of up to €20m.

Coimisiún na Meán (CnaM) – Ireland’s new media regulator – has shared a draft of the country’s first online safety code and is once again seeking public feedback.

This draft code includes measures that video-sharing platforms would have to implement to keep their users – particularly children – safe online. It aims to protect children from harmful online content such as cyberbullying and content that promotes eating disorders, self-harm or suicide.

CnaM has opened a public consultation on the draft code today (8 December) and plans to finalise the rules next year. These rules will then form part of Ireland’s overall online safety framework, which will aim to make digital platforms accountable for how they protect people online.

The regulator said its planned online safety framework will also include the EU Digital Services Act and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation.

CnaM was set up in March of this year in place of the now-disbanded Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. A key difference of CnaM to its predecessor is the added focus on online media.

CnAM developed this draft online safety code as part of its plans to enforce the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. The code was drafted with the help of a public consultation, which included feedback from civil society organisations, industry members and the public.

The measures in the draft code include using robust age verification technology to make sure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content. The code also pushes for tools to be given to parents to ensure they can protect their children from harmful online content.

Under the rules of this code, video-sharing platforms will have to prevent the uploading or sharing of various forms of illegal content, such as posts that incite hatred or violence. They will also have to provide media literacy tools to help people recognise disinformation and misinformation.

Platforms that breach the code will face fines of up to €20m for breaches, once the code is finalised. Online safety commissioner Niamh Hodnett said CnaM will 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,” Hodnett said. “This effective regulation of video-sharing platforms will significantly reduce the potential harms that these services can cause to children and young people.”

The public consultation is open for responses until 19 January 2024. The draft code and the consultation document can be found on the CnaM website.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic