Samaritans looks forward to working with key stakeholders in the coming months.
Samaritans Ireland welcomes the recent publication of the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Bill from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and looks forward to engaging further with key stakeholders as the Bill undergoes further scrutiny over the coming months.
Minister Catherine Martin’s announcement that the establishment and recruitment of the role of an Online Safety Commissioner, whose office will minimise the availability of defined categories of harmful online content through binding Online Safety Codes, is also welcomed.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said: “While we are pleased that much of our submission during Pre-Legislative Scrutiny process was considered and can now be seen reflected in the legislation, we still believe there are a number of key issues which could be incorporated during the consultation phase.
"While we positively note the removal of the word ‘intent’ from considerations of harmful online content, we have remaining concerns around Section 44 139A.(3)(c)(d). The phrasing in these lines still carry the potential to stigmatise those individuals with self-harm or suicidal thoughts and/or experiences who may post content as part of their own recovery that could be harmful to others. We encourage the legislative focus remain on the content itself and not the poster who uploaded it.
“We also feel the lack of any reference to those who moderate the content on behalf of platforms to make the internet safer is a missed opportunity. The guidance Samaritans has developed as part of our Online Excellence programme includes measures to protect the wellbeing of staff with a high exposure to difficult content – we feel this would be an important issue to include in the compliance monitoring for Designated Service Providers.
“Finally, we notice that the procedure for regulating the content of media service providers and online service providers, while contained in the same bill, are now quite distinct.
“We would welcome an opportunity to discuss with the Minister how the regulation of content that promotes suicide or provides a description of means should be regulated consistently across all media.
“Samaritans has developed media guidelines for both broadcast and online spheres and appreciate both the differences and the similarities in each sphere and feel there is still work to be done on this bill.”
The charity thanked legislators for the addition of description of means and the inclusion of prevalence and algorithmic decision making as matters for the safety codes in the Bill, both key issues it had also raised in its submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and media.
For more information contact Sarah Stack, Communications & Policy Manager, Samaritans Ireland, on [email protected]
Note to editors:
- Samaritans Ireland submission on Online Harms to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, and Media, can be read here
- The Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media Report of the Joint Committee on the Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill can be read here