The issue of terrorist content online was highlighted by the organised dissemination of live footage of the horrific attacks carried out on the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March this year and I very much welcome last week's Christchurch Call, in which the Taoiseach participated on behalf of Ireland and which has given new momentum to the efforts of Governments and online service providers to tackle this very serious issue.
There have been a number of welcome voluntary commitments, including transparent, specific measures by online service providers to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content, preventing its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services; and working together with civil society to promote community-led efforts to counter violent extremism in all its forms.
My own Department is preparing for the implementation of the proposed EU Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content. The main provisions of the Regulation include the establishment of a Competent Authority to issue removal and referral orders and oversee compliance with these orders, to monitor proactive measures which are being undertaken by industry and to search for and identify terrorist content online. Clearly, this important proposal will create significant obligations for both Member States and service providers.
Following on from the Government’s strong support for the Christchurch Call, last week I hosted a meeting with representatives of the technology industry in Ireland to discuss tackling illegal content online and how the commitments contained in the Christchurch Call might be put into practical action. This discussion also focused on the implementation of the proposed EU Regulation, as well as on the existing structures and processes to report and remove illegal content, how they can be improved, how Government and industry can work closer together to address illegal content and a future framework for tackling this type of material.
As the Deputy will be aware, action is also taking place on a national level to tackle illegal content online through the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019 which contains twenty-five actions under five main goals. This is very much a whole of Government approach and actions are assigned to six Government Departments for implementation, including my own.