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Online Safety Commissioner would further strengthen ongoing work designed to protect Irish people from abuse online – Higgins

19th November 2020 - Emer Higgins, TD

The establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner would further strengthen ongoing work designed to protect Irish people from abuse online, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Emer Higgins, who is Fine Gael’s spokesperson on Social Media and FinTech, was responding to news of an investigation into an online leak of tens of thousands of cases of image based sexual abuse.

Deputy Higgins said: “The news of the online leaking of tens of thousands of so called ‘revenge porn’, intimate and illicit images, as well as the distribution of images of vulnerable children, is absolutely appalling.

“My colleague the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee is already dealing with this issue in the Oireachtas and has committed to prioritising the Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill. That Bill will be at Committee Stage in the Dáil in just over a week’s time.

“Government amendments to this Labour Bill will deal with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and this is very welcome, particularly in light of the revelation that so many women and children have been affected by this latest leak of images. I am informed by Minister McEntee that these legislative amendments will be published in advance of Committee Stage following consideration by Cabinet.

“The Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety is ensuring a whole-of-government approach to addressing the complex issue of online safety.

“The other measure I believe would strengthen this work is the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.

“Deputy Richard Bruton published the General Scheme of the Online Safety Media Regulation Bill when he was Minister for Communications, and Fine Gael committed in its recent election manifesto to see this through and ensured it formed part of the Programme for Government. We want to establish an Online Safety Commissioner to require online platforms to set out the steps they will take to keep their users safe online and to build safety into the design of their platforms.

“We want to establish new Online Safety Codes to help combat issues like cyber bullying material and material promoting eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. I would like to see the issue of distribution of harmful content like revenge porn included in this. I look forward to working on progressing this legislation as it moves through the Oireachtas,” concluded Deputy Higgins.




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