GPD has responded to a new consultation by the Joint Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht on the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. The consultation invites stakeholders to provide feedback to the Joint Committee as part of its pre-legislative scrutiny process.
GPD recognises the legitimate desire of the Irish government to tackle unlawful and harmful content online, and our analysis found the majority of the proposals put forward in the General Scheme to be reasonable and sensible. However, we believe that particular aspects of the General Scheme, if taken forward in their current form, may still pose risks to individuals’ right to freedom of expression and privacy online and could be inconsistent with Ireland’s international human rights obligations.
In this submission, we set out our concerns and make a series of recommendations on how the proposals relating to online safety could be revised to mitigate these risks. We believe these considerations and recommendations, if incorporated into the final legislation, would help safeguard freedom of expression and privacy online.
Some of our recommendations include:
- Requiring the Media Commission, which would oversee the regulatory framework for online safety, to consider Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly freedom of expression, in its decisions.
- Providing guarantees that online safety codes will not oblige designated online services to cease, restrict or in any way weaken their use of encryption.
- Requiring that online safety codes relating to user complaint and/or issues handling mechanisms reflect international best practice on transparency and due process.
- Ensuring that any super-complaints scheme does not constrain online service providers’ ability to respect freedom of expression.
The submissions received will be used to inform the Joint Committee’s Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Heads of the Bill. We’ll be following the Bill’s progress closely—sign up to our monthly Digest for regular updates and analysis.