BAI proposes new regulatory scheme for online media

24 Jun 2019

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The BAI has put forward a new submission to regulate harmful online content on social media sites.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has published a submission on the regulation of “harmful online content”.

The submission proposes new statutory regulation for online content including videos, a national framework for online safety and the implementation of the EU’s revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. All EU member states are required to bring the provisions of the directive into law by 2020.

The revised directive extends certain audiovisual rules to video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and audiovisual content shared on social media sites such as Facebook. It aims to provide increased protections for minors on video-sharing platforms and reinforce protection on both TV and video on-demand against incitement to violence or hatred.

“The implementation of the new directive and the proposals for a national framework for online safety provides an opportunity to develop a vision for the future regulation of online media,” the release from BAI says. “Having given significant consideration to the matter, and drawing on its own regulatory experience, the BAI is of the view that the introduction of new regulation can be most effectively accomplished through the introduction of a single, comprehensive regulatory scheme and regulator.”

Michael O’Keeffe, CEO of the BAI, has pointed out the unique level of pressure that there will be on Ireland due to the number of major tech firms that have a significant presence here.

“Given the size and the scale of the content, you have to put the onus on the companies,” O’Keeffe said, speaking to the Sunday Independent.

The CEO also said it would be proposing age verification and content rating systems, as well as a “robust” complaints resolution system.

Not right for the job

Director of Data Compliance Europe, Simon McGarr, has argued that the BAI is not the correct organisation to regulate social media.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, McGarr maintained that while the 98-page submission had some sensible ideas therein, the idea that you could apply the same rules for audiovisual content to social media is a flawed instinct.

“It is a completely different communication. They have taken the concept of regulating broadcast and applied it to communications between individuals.”

McGarr also expressed concern that the new regulatory scheme would allow for the BAI to remove encrypted, private messages on WhatsApp.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic