Newstalk
Newstalk

19.53 22 Feb 2018


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The government has said it will support legislation to introduce a Digital Safety Commissioner.

Cross-party calls for the position to be introduced have been gaining in traction over recent months amid fears over the potential for predators to target children online.

The legislation received support form all corners of the Dáil during a debate this evening - including from the Communications Minister Denis Naughten.

Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire is the TD proposing the legislation:

Government to support introduction of Digital Safety Commissioner post

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

“I am absolutely happy to work with the Minister; with other spokespersons from other parties and organisations.

“I think the points made by all deputies here; that there is a desire across parties to deal with this in a non-partisan way and in a progressive way is absolutely true.

“I hope that we will be in a position to deliver.”

Law Reform Commission

The introduction of a Digital Safety Commissioner post was one of the key recommendations from the Law Reform Commission in their 2016 report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety.

The report also called for the Irish laws to be updated to take in modern technology.

The Labour Party’s Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 recently passed second stage in the Dáil – and was also unopposed by the Government.

Issues

In the Dáil this afternoon the Communications Minister Denis Naughten confirmed the Government would not oppose the Sinn Féin legislation – but warned that “there are significant legal and jurisdictional issues which must be overcome” before it could be enacted.

He warned that “it is important that we debate these points and come forward with practical, implementable solutions.”

“It is only by working together that we can begin to make the internet a safer place for all citizens, but especially our children,” he said.

Child protection

Meanwhile, the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) welcomed the bill and called on all parties to support “this important step to enhance online protection for children and young people in Ireland.”

The organisation’s CEO Grainia Long online safety is the “child protection issue of our time.”

“The appointment of a Digital Safety Commissioner is a key part of the action required to keep children safe online,” she said.

“Such an Office will play a major role across education and awareness, monitoring areas of law reform and putting in place appropriate regulations, monitoring and supports to industry.”

She said the new post is one of a number of “inter-dependent measures” that must be introduced to keep children safe online.


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