Facebook and Sky challenge Irish Government on online regulation

30 Jun 2014

Both social network Facebook and broadband provider Sky have submitted papers to the Irish Government, asking it to not go ahead with online regulation regarding online bullying and child protection in favour of more self-regulation.

Both companies felt the need to contact the Government after the internet Content Governance Advisory Group, as well as other children’s rights groups, felt regulation was needed with regard to online safety for children, according to The Irish Examiner.

In its document to the Government, Facebook said it had directly informed An Garda Síochána about cases of online abuse and bullying, and is looking to introduce the company’s anti-bullying hub in Ireland, something which is already in place in its native United States.

However, Facebook is now asking that the Government refrain from introducing any legislation which may bring greater regulation to the site, by saying it they should “consider adopting a multi-stakeholder model for co-ordination and dissemination of good practices, rather than enact new laws”.

Likewise, Sky has criticised the idea of legislation for what it sees as an impossible task, given the lack of international borders that exist on the internet. “Given the cross-border nature of the internet, and the volume of content provided from outside of Ireland, it is difficult to see how stringent regulatory rules on internet content can be effective.”

Pat Rabbitte, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, has said if any Government legislation was to be introduced, it would not be harsh decision-making but decision-making in co-operation with the industry.

“I think it would be difficult for the Government to take effective measures without the co-operation of the industry unless one is saying that you can decree and make law, but that kind of intrusion is running counter to the spirit of what we are trying to do here and would run counter to the fundamental cornerstone of the freedom of expression,” Rabbitte said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic