ISPCC Welcomes Open Policy Debate On Online Safety

THE ISPCC has welcomed the timely hosting of an Open Policy Debate on Online Safety by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, with the input of other departments. The event will raise awareness of raise awareness of activities being undertaken to increase online safety and identify areas where further consideration and co-operation between stakeholders may be necessary.

Young people’s online safety is the child protection issue of our time. The national child protection charity is calling for a number of inter-dependent measures to be introduced without delay, so that children and young people can continue to enjoy the breadth of opportunities the internet presents in the safest and most supportive environment possible.

The charity has welcomed the introduction and progression of legislation to support the introduction of an Office of Digital Safety Commissioner. Such an office will play a major role across education and awareness, monitoring areas of law reform and putting in place appropriate regulations, monitoring and supports to industry. A Digital Safety Commissioner must be appointed without delay and granted statutory powers.

The ISPCC, along with other child welfare organisations including the Children’s Rights Alliance and, is also advocating for the Digital Age of Consent to be set at 13. This is a priority matter of child protection. Raising the age will remove an onus on online service providers to increase safety measures for young people, will limit access for young people to information and support online and will encourage young people to lie about their age.

In addition to these measures, the ISPCC is calling for the introduction of a National Strategy for Children’s Cyber Safety, to encompass aspects of increased education, regulation of service providers and reform of the criminal law. Gardai must also be given increased powers to seize mobile phones and devices from suspects. It is essential that all of these measures are taken to enhance online protection for children. The ISPCC is pleased to see this Open Policy Debate taking place and looks forward to the follow-up including a series of actions designed to help keep young people safe online.

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