Ireland must be a world leader in regulating harmful behaviour by online platforms

22 March 2022
  • Facebook whistle-blower calls on Irish legislators to hold Big Tech to account

Labour spokesperson on media, arts and culture, Senator Marie Sherlock has said Ireland has a responsibility to be a defender of human rights and intervene to better regulate Big Tech organisations such as Facebook.

Speaking during an Oireachtas briefing organised by Senator Marie Sherlock, Deputy Ivana Bacik and Uplift, and attended by Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen and representatives from civil society activists and organisations including Rohingya Action Ireland and Digital Action Ireland, Senator Sherlock said it’s time for a broader conversation about Ireland’s relationship with Big Tech.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Today’s meeting was about starting a conversation on Ireland’s responsibility, as a digital superpower, to show leadership in defending human rights values online.

“As home to many of these organisations in Ireland, we have a special responsibility to be world leaders in our approach to Big Tech. We need to future proof our regulatory framework for the many harms that have been brought to people through the unfettered and unregulated access these giants have to our lives.

“The powerful testimony we heard from both Rohingya and Burmese speakers reflects how Facebook has been used as a tool of war in Myanmar and in other parts of this world.

“Ireland’s regulatory responsibilities mean that our country must step up to the plate in ensuring that social media platforms are not used to incite hate and violence.

“It’s very clear that Ireland’s regulatory framework is now about to be shaken up by the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. We are very clear that we need to ensure social media platforms are recognised as publishers of material and that there is transparency and accountability in how they operate online.”

Frances Haugen reiterated her previous call to Irish legislators to take the responsibility of holding big tech corporations accountable more seriously.

Ms Haugen said:

 “It rests with Ireland to evaluate the facts and decide whether it will promote justice or the interests of a trillion-dollar profit machine. I am hopeful that Ireland will do what the Tánaiste, Deputy Leo Varadkar, promised when Ireland got a seat at the UN Security Council, which was to champion “peace and security, conflict resolution and reconciliation.”

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