The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was approved by Government on 9 January 2020 and subsequently published on 10 January 2020. At that time the Government also approved the detailed drafting of the proposed Bill by the Office of the Attorney General and forwarded the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for pre-legislative scrutiny. Due to the dissolution of the Dáil and Committees in January, pre-legislative scrutiny did not commence at that time. The enactment of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a commitment in the Programme for Government. The proposed Bill will establish a multi-person Media Commission, including an Online Safety Commissioner, dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, establish regulatory frameworks for online safety and the regulation of audiovisual media services, and transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive. The regulatory framework for online safety will be overseen by the Online Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner will have the power to designate online services for regulation and to create and enforce binding online safety codes. These will seek to minimise the availability of harmful online content through oversight of the systems that online services use to deliver and moderate content. The regulator will have the power to sanction non-compliant online services, including financial sanctions.
Engagement with the Attorney General's Office is continuing on the detailed drafting of the Bill and I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly to advance this important Government priority.