The Action Plan for Online Safety was launched by the Taoiseach in July 2018 following engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. The Action Plan aims to put in place a multi-stakeholder approach in place for strengthening online safety and is being implemented by a Sponsor’s Group made up of six Government Departments. It is chaired by the Department of Education and Skills which also co-ordinates the publication of bi-annual Progress Reports on the Plan.
The other five Departments responsible for delivering these actions are the Department of Health; the Department of Justice and Equality; the Department of Children and Youth Affairs; the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The Action Plan comprises 25 targeted actions to be implemented over an 18-month period. The two key actions assigned to my Department by the Action Plan relate to developing a Government response to the issues raised by the Digital Safety Commissioner Bill 2017, i.e. the regulation of harmful online content (Action 18), and the transposition of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (Action 17). The development of an Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill encompasses these two actions and work on preparing this legislation is underway. A public consultation in respect of the legislation closed in April and involved advertising expenditure of €9,870.
Another key action assigned to my Department was the establishment of the National Advisory Council for Online Safety (Actions 20 & 24), which meets on a quarterly basis and for which my Department provides the Secretariat. The Council comprises representatives of non-governmental organisations, industry and public bodies relevant to online safety. The Council published a progress report on Safer Internet Day, 5 February 2019 (Action 19). In addition, funding of circa €100,000 has been made available by my Department to fund a proposal adopted by the National Advisory Council for Online Safety to conduct online safety research.