Samaritans Ireland welcomes Joint Committee Report on the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill (OSMR Bill)
Samaritans Ireland welcomes the publication from the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media of its Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation (OMSR) Bill 2020.
In particular, Samaritans welcomes the recommendation that the Bill is amended to specifically include the position of an Online Safety Commissioner who is satisfactorily resourced, with the level of staffing and expertise adequate to allow optimal operational capacity and enforcement.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said: “We believe the role of an Online safety Commissioner is an important one to monitor the online environment with the authority to scrutinise companies’ policies, procedures, and progress of appropriately investigating complaints from the public and subsequently flagging and removing harmful content.
“We are also delighted to see the recommendation that all reference to intention be excluded from definitions of categories of online harmful content.
“Samaritans Ireland has long argued that while some content on issues like self-harm and suicide can be easily identified as dangerous, other content is recognised to be an important source of support for individuals to seek help when they have suicidal thoughts. We are also encouraged by the recommendation that a pluralistic and diverse-oriented approach continues to be taken during the legislative process for the present Bill including liaising with vulnerable groups to ensure that their lived experience is reflected.”
Samaritans Ireland also welcomes the recommendation that explicit reference be made to prevalence and placement of online content in considerations of harmful content and we would again reference the importance of algorithmic transparency in how platforms deliver content to users and the need to move to ethical algorithms.
Separately, Samaritans Ireland is disappointed the committee did not refer to its submission on the impact self-harm and suicide content may have on people who are tasked with moderating the platforms.
Mr Mulligan added: “Samaritans Ireland feel the registered service providers should have a duty to support all staff who undertake moderation of harmful content. Regulation should seek to empower these staff to contribute to a safer, less harmful environment by acting on both content but also algorithms which generate user issues. We believe the assessment of Complaints Handling should include transparency on the algorithms used in presenting the flagged content and any patterns in these complaints themselves.”
For more information contact Sarah Stack, Communications & Policy Manager, Samaritans Ireland on email: [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