Relevant online services, i.e. those information society services to host or facilitate access to user-generated content and on-demand audiovisual media services and video-sharing platform services covered by Directive (EU) 2018/1808.
The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill
The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill incorporates the transposition of the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2018/1808/EU) into Irish law and includes the following provisions which warrant notification:
1. A new regulatory structure is required to accommodate the multiple strands of regulation. Accordingly, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will be dissolved and replaced by a multi-person Media Commission. The Commission will impose an industry levy on broadcasting services, on-demand audiovisual media services, and designated online services to fund its activities.
2. Establishment of a framework for the regulation of online safety to address the proliferation of harmful online content, encompassing the regulation of video-sharing platform services, to be administered by an Online Safety Commissioner as part of the Media Commission. Harmful online content will be defined in terms of a non-exhaustive list of specific categories of content. These categories, and further matters of principles and policies set out in legislation, will set the parameters for the creation of binding online safety codes by the Online Safety Commissioner and the assessment of compliance of designated online services with those codes.
3. The compliance powers granted to the Online Safety Commissioner will include the power to request information, investigate, or audit an online service. The Commissioner may also issue directions, through compliance or warning notices, to online services mandating them to take specific steps to improve their compliance.
4. Non-compliance may lead to appropriate sanctions being sought by the Media Commission. Such sanctions may include financial penalties, compelling the online service to take specific actions, or blocking the offending online service. Sanctions are subject to court approval and an appeals process.
5. On-demand audiovisual media services established in Ireland will have a statutory obligation to register with the Media Commission, irrespective of the level of audience or turnover. Registration includes signing up to the relevant codes laid out by the regulator for compliance with EU and national law.
6. Certain “professional” on-demand audiovisual media services will be required to abide by the same standards that television broadcasting services are required to abide by in respect of news and current affairs programming.