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Communications Committee recommends single body for social media oversight

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications has this morning recommended that a single body be given responsibility for co-ordinating the regulation of social media content.

18 July 2013  

It says that funding and organisational models for this agency should be agreed with the industry, noting other examples where industry-led partnerships between stakeholders and government have been established in recent years. The Committee also argues that guidelines specific to cyberbullying should be put in place nationally, so that school principals have a clear protocol to follow.

The recommendations are included in the Committee’s report which was launched in Leinster House this morning. Other recommendations include that:

  • where children under the allowable age open social media accounts, the relevant company must be swift in closing the account and taking down all information in relation to it. Also, parents should be made more aware of their responsibilities in this regard.
  • Child Protection Guidelines incorporate guidance for all professionals working with children, to aid them if they encounter issues relating to cyberbullying and inappropriate use of social media.
  • employers be made aware of the importance of introducing a social media policy which outlines what constitutes cyberbullying and what actions will be taken if there is a breach of such a policy
  • a review of international best practice in relation to the registration of prepaid SIM cards be carried out by the Government, with a view to exploring the feasibility of preventing use of these cards for malicious and/or illegal purposes.
  • continuous professional development for public officials working in criminal justice be provided so that they are given clear guidance on how to deal with cases of bullying and cyberbullying.
  • with support from the industry, more emphasis be placed on educating parents, teachers and children on how to safely use social media. For children, this might incorporate peer-to-peer learning whereby children mentor their peers.

Committee Vice-Chairman John O’Mahony says: “Social media outlets are changing the way many of our citizens interact with one another. Over four public hearings held earlier this year, our Committee debated in detail challenges facing individuals, families and communities from the rise of social media, including the challenges posed by cyber-bullying and online harassment. Informed by these hearings and by the many submissions received from the public, we have prepared a report containing what we believe are practical, clearheaded and common-sense recommendations to be considered by Government.”

“There is no doubt that social media has immense potential for public good and civic engagement and the Committee‘s primary concern was to ensure that it does so without impacting adversely on people's individual rights. Underpinning our recommendations is the need for a more coordinated approach to tackling the irresponsible use of social media channels which spans State departments and agencies and the social media companies themselves.”

Access report: Addressing the Growth of Social Media and tackling Cyberbullying

Media enquiries to:
Paul Hand,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +3531 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926