The Government on Tuesday agreed to designate Coimisiún na Meán as a competent authority under the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation. Government also agreed to the drafting of the necessary legislation, to be provided for by way of amendment to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, after its enactment.
The responsibilities of Coimisiún na Meán will include overseeing the implementation of specific measures to be taken by hosting service providers found to have hosted terrorist content and the potential imposition of administrative fines, including financial penalties up to 4% of global turnover, for infringements of the Terrorism Content Online Regulation.
Welcoming the Government’s agreement to these proposals, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD said,
“We have seen many examples in the past where people have become radicalised by content that they have consumed online. Tackling the dissemination of terrorist content online, such as calls to recruitment, bomb-making instructions or hostage execution videos, is an important part of ensuring the safety and security of the State.
“The Terrorist Content Online Regulation contains strong provisions to deal with such content – once a removal order is issued, hosting service providers have just 1 hour to take down the offending material. It is important, however, that these provisions are backed up by a well-resourced regulator to ensure that this new regime is properly overseen and infringements of it are sanctioned.
“I would like to acknowledge the work done by my Department and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media in teasing out these issues and I look forward to tabling amendments to the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill in due course, following its enactment.”
Welcoming the development, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media Catherine Martin TD, whose Department has responsibility for the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, said,
“As Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and the Media, I support and endorse the decision to designate Coimisiún na Meán as a national competent authority under the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation. It makes sense given the overlap of investigation and enforcement powers contained in the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, currently before the Oireachtas, and envisaged in the TCO regulation.
I welcome this joined up approach to digital policy and regulation, which is key to better protecting the people of Ireland from harmful online content. This is an important step in overseeing the implementation of specific measures that must be taken by platforms that have been exposed to terrorist content online.
The OSMR Bill is progressing through the Oireachtas and I am fully committed to having it enacted by the end of the year.”
The Terrorist Content Online Regulation, which came into effect in June of this year, provides an EU wide mechanism for the speedy removal of terrorist content online by hosting service providers, at the request of EU law enforcement agencies. An Garda Síochána will act as the Irish competent authority in respect of issuing removal orders.
In line with the national digital strategy and wider efforts to ensure regulatory coherence in the digital sphere, it is proposed that Coimisiún na Meán will take on the responsibilities under the Regulation relating to the oversight and sanctioning of hosting service providers.
The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, which is at an advanced stage, already provides Coimisiún na Meán with the investigatory and enforcement powers required and, with the Government’s agreement today, Minister McEntee will bring forward a piece of amending legislation to enable these powers to be used in respect of the Terrorist Content Online Regulation.