FuJo-ABC Submission on the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill.

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FuJo and the Anti-Bullying Centre have made a joint-submission on the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. The Bill, published in January, will transpose the EU’s revised AVMS Directive into Irish legislation.

A new Media Commission will replace the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Commission’s remit will include broadcasting as well as video-sharing platforms and on-demand services. An Online Safety Commissioner will oversee a new regulatory framework for online safety through binding codes backed up with compliance, enforcement and sanction powers.

This Bill is a pivotal opportunity to update media regulation for the 21st Century. Ireland also has special responsibilities in this area. As many technology companies maintain their European headquarters in Ireland, the rules developed here will impact citizens across the EU.

In this context, FuJo and the Anti-Bullying Centre made the following recommendations:

Media Pluralism: The role of Media Pluralism Commissioner should be introduced with a remit to consider how the policy and regulatory environment in which all Irish-facing media operate can be best designed to create and maintain a healthy, pluralistic, and diverse public sphere.

Disinformation: The Bill should include a Head on Disinformation to ensure there is a specific responsibility to tackle harmful disinformation. Omitting disinformation from the categories of harmful content will have significant implications for individuals, communities, and public safety and, contrary to EU obligations, it will leave this area unregulated in Ireland.

Individual Complaints Mechanism: The Bill should include a provision for an individual complaints mechanism that would provide recourse for users who are dissatisfied with a platform’s resolution of a complaint.

Algorithmic Oversight: The development of codes and auditing procedures should take account of the impact of automated decision making and proactive content moderation to ensure platforms are transparent about their use of such practices and the measures they use for self-reporting.

Medium Neutrality: The use of the content levy for the production of public service content should be medium-neutral and thereby open to all media whether print, radio, television (linear or on-demand) or online.

Future Proofing: As far as possible, new media legislation should be future-proofed to accommodate technological change and developments in the media sector. This may be achieved through a focus on outcomes and objectives (e.g. online safety, media plurality) rather than prescriptive obligations; through a medium-neutral approach to technology and media; and through built-in review mechanisms.

Read the submission here.

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