Online video-sharing and platform providers that have head offices here should take note; they may fall under the purview of the Online Safety Act (Act).
Minister Richard Bruton TD announced that he will introduce the Act to improve online safety and 'ensure that children can be protected online'. The Act also aims to implement changes required under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The deadline to implement changes under the AVMSD is 19 September 2020.
The Act would introduce online safety rules applicable to Irish residents. These include the regulation of video sharing platforms like YouTube; on demand services like RTE Player; Virgin Media Player; iTunes; and also include minor changes to the regulation of traditional TV.
Expansion of content regulation to apply to all online platforms and not just video sharing platform services
The revised AVMSD regulates video sharing platform services, or VSPs, for the first time. The Act proposes to expand the application of these rules to apply not only to VSPs, but also to platforms in respect of other user-generated content for Irish residents. User-generated content would include photos, comments and other material which is not audio-visual in nature.
Under the Act, VSPs and other online platforms would have to take measures to protect and enforce these principles through their terms with both users and advertisers, which include:
Minors from potentially harmful content The general public from content containing incitement to violence or hatred, and The general public from content, the distribution of which constitutes is a criminal offence under EU law, including content containing provocation to commit a terrorist offence, offences concerning child sexual abuse material or concerning racism and xenophobia. VSPs and online platforms may also be required to:
Operate an online safety code, which could be certified as 'fit for purpose' by a regulator or required to change Build safety into the design of the platforms through technology and human intervention Provide a transparent and easy to use system for users to flag potentially breaching content Implement user-led content rating systems Age verification and parental control systems to users Provide a complaints mechanism Harmful content
The Minister specifically identified three types of material which could be included in a definition of harmful content including:
Serious cyber bullying, including content which...