Online safety act marks end of self-regulation age

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Childrens' Internet Safety - a talk for adults

The new Online Safety Act will ensure that children can be protected online

Today the Children’s Rights Alliance welcomed the announcement today by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD that he will introduce a new Online Safety Act to ensure that children can be protected online.
 
Commenting on today’s announcement, Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said: “Children and young people represent one third of global users online. And the digital environment shapes children’s lives in many ways, creating opportunities and risks to their well-being and enjoyment of human rights. This announcement is a clear sign to industry that the age of self-regulation is over. The development of an Online Safety Act means that industry could be compelled to adopt the principle of ‘safety by design’. For far too long, providers have developed services and apps without considering the safety implications for children and young people.
 
Cyber bullying and cyber harassment ruins many children’s lives. Children tell us that they have no peace from it and that it follows them throughout the day. The Minister is proposing that cyber bullying will be defined as a ‘harmful communication’.
 
The Minister is proposing to establish an Online Safety Commissioner to police the set down standards for social tech companies to comply with. This Commissioner would also potentially have special powers to issue take down orders in the event that a company doesn’t take down something that is harmful to a child. This is really important. We have seen too many examples where a provider has failed to take down material or content that is harmful to a child. This has been called for by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Prof. Geoffrey Shannon in his annual reports.”
 
Tanya Ward continued: “The Minister has opened a six week consultation on the development of this new legislation. It is critical that the views and experiences of children and young people get to inform this legislation directly. The Children’s Rights Alliance is calling on its members to participate in this consultation to ensure that the legislation respects the rights of children and young people.”