The Internet has revolutionised the modern world, and in turn, the lives of children worldwide; the reality is that they make up one third of global online users and their engagement with online platforms has only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the internet brings unparalleled opportunity to children to learn, create, connect and socialise it also brings unparalleled risk, including the loss of personal data, exposure to harmful content, cyberbullying, negative impacts on health, well-being, online grooming and extortion. Most children and young people accessing the digital world have enjoyable and positive experiences. They use the online world to maintain friendships, have fun, support their education and learn about their world. At the same time, the digital world can pose serious threats to the development and protection of children and young people. The Government must ensure the online world is safer for children and young people. It is also important that children and young people are educated and empowered to help them stay safe online.
The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill
The Government’s General Scheme for the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is currently undergoing pre legislative scrutiny. The campaign members have made submissions on the General Scheme and have appeared in front of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, sport, Gaeltacht and Media.
We are calling for critical changes to the General Scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose and works to create a safer, more positive online environment for children and young people. These include:
- Online Safety Commissioner: The establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner that is adequately resourced, with appropriate ring-fenced funding and staffing, and granted robust statutory powers to sanction companies who do not comply with timebound codes for the protection of children and young people online that are in line with fair procedures.
- Education remit: The provision that the Online Safety Commissioner is given the power to evaluate and regulate educational and community awareness programmes on online safety.
- Individual Complaints Mechanism: The provision for an individual complaints mechanism to ensure that children and young people whose rights are not respected by the online providers and who have exhausted all appropriate channels with the relevant platform, have access to an effective remedy.
The 1,2,3 of Online Safety Campaign is kindly supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland via the RTÉ does Comic Relief Fund. #RTEComicRelief #123OnlineSafety