New child internet safety body recommended by Government report

The Government today launched a report on internet safety containing 30 recommendations on online harassment and illegal content.

The report, from the Internet Content Advisory Group, recommends the establishment of a national council for child internet safety.

Speaking at the report's launch, the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, said that body will fall under the remit of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

He said the report's recommendations would be difficult to implement, but he was confident the Government could deliver "worthwhile change".

Among the recommendations in the report were:

• The reconfiguration of the Office for Internet Safety to deal solely with law enforcement and illegal content.

• The establishment of a National Council for Child Internet Safety, to operate as the main forum for safety strategy.

• The establishment of the Safer Internet Ireland Centre as a helpline, educational resource and awareness-raising group for young people, teachers, and parents.

• That electronic communications should fall under the current regulations regarding "grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing" messages, and the current Communications Regulation act amended to make this clear.

• That the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland be given responsibility for age-verification in streaming content.

• That internet providers should be "encouraged" to provide parental controls as a part of their service.

The advisory group was established by the Minister for Communications in December 2013, and was asked to consider issues arising from "pervasive access to online content", particularly among children.

Its members include academics, representatives of school students and parents, and industry figures.

The report in full can be read online here.

By Dave Molloy

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