The subject of online safety for all individuals but especially for children is of vital concern and importance to me. This issue is a complex and multifaceted one and effective actions in this area rely on the active engagement of all stakeholders including Government, technology companies and parents.
On Tuesday 21 November 2017 I convened a meeting with my colleagues, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and their officials to discuss online safety issues, including the various initiatives which are taking place at a national and European level to tackle illegal or harmful content online.
Recognising that there are already a range of diverse activities being taken by many Government Departments, by the European Commission, by industry and by stakeholders, we agreed at this meeting to further progress the matter of digital safety through an Open Policy Debate. The Open Policy Debate will take place on Thursday 8 March in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham The establishment of an Office of a Digital Safety Commissioner is one of a number of proposals which will be discussed during this event.
My Department is co-ordinating this open policy debate with the support and participation of the Departments of Justice & Equality; Education & Skills; Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Health; and Children and Youth Affairs. My Department is also engaging with the relevant online platforms, ISPCC, parents' groups and other key stakeholders who will be participating in the initiative. The overall aim of the event is to raise awareness among all participants of the activities which are being undertaken by the Irish Government, by the European Commission, by industry and NGO's.
It is intended that the event will identify issues requiring further consideration and areas where additional cooperation between stakeholders would be beneficial. Following the event, I will engage further with my Ministerial colleagues in relation to these matters.