18th December 2018

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has expressed her frustration with the government for failing to establish a Digital Safety Commissioner.  Despite promising to take action, not one concrete step has been taken to set up this essential office.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “It’s now a full year since I first called for the establishment of a Digital Safety Commissioner and despite a lot of positive murmurings from various government Ministers, there has been absolutely no movement to establish an office.  With Christmas almost upon us, and children and teenagers set to receive new devices, we, unfortunately, do not have the protections in place to keep them safe online.

“Earlier this year we saw the digital age of consent set at 16, but without a Digital Safety Commissioner to police and regulate the online social media platforms or the broadband providers, there is nothing stopping children from logging on and seeing graphic or inappropriate content.

“This fact was exposed in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which exposed Facebook’s failure, and in some cases refusal, to remove dangerous, abusive and inappropriate content from its pages.  Profits, rather than people, are being protected, and that’s simply not good enough.

“I, along with my Fianna Fáil colleagues, have been to the fore in supporting the recommendation by the Law Reform Commission for the establishment of a Digital Safety Commissioner.  We need a body, which not only regulates and examines online content but which also promotes safe digital behaviour.  Despite the widespread support for this office, Communications Minister Richard Bruton and his Cabinet colleagues have failed to take any meaningful steps to establish it.

“It is no longer acceptable to allow social media platforms to regulate themselves.  They are only focused on profit.  We need to prioritise children’s and public safety, and the first step toward creating a safe online society is to establish a Digital Safety Commissioner”.

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