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Big EU fine not unexpected and could have been worse


Before issuing its formal response to the ruling of the EU Court of Justice, the Irish Government first had to point out that there was an error in the statement released to the media by the court.

It had originally claimed that Ireland was to be hit with a €3 million fine as well as a daily penalty of €30,000 until the Government complies with its obligations.

The actual figure is a fine of €2.5m with daily penalties of €10,000.

While the correct figure is lower, it is still a lot of money.

The fine was expected and it could have been worse.

“… these fines are significantly lower than the maximum levels that were open to the Court to impose,” the Department of Media said in a statement responding to the ruling.

The department added that Ireland accepts the judgment and will study it in detail.

The EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive originally covered the regulation of TV but to keep up with fast-evolving technology, in recent years the European Commission told member states to include online video-sharing platforms within the scope of the regulations.

It is designed to combat hate speech and protect children from harmful content.

The Irish media regulator Coimisiún na Meán is currently finalising an Online Safety Code to regulate video-sharing platforms but it will not be ready until later this year.

In January, the regulator named the ten video-sharing platforms that will be covered by the code.

They are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Udemy, TikTok, LinkedIn, X, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit.
Tumblr and Reddit have taken legal action, however, arguing that they should not be designated as video-sharing platforms.

Today’s EU court ruling noted that the deadline was missed by most member states but it also highlights that Ireland is the member state where the largest number of video-sharing platforms are established.

But it is our unique position within Europe, as home to most of the major platforms, that was one of the reasons for the delay.

The Department of Media said that because Ireland has to regulate video-sharing platforms that are established here for the whole of Europe it was necessary to not only enshrine the directive in Irish law, but to establish a new regulator, something which it said contributed to delays in the process.

The Government insists it is committed to implementing the directive into Irish law which will be achieved once Coimisiún na Meán adopts online safety and media services codes.

That is still months away however, and with daily penalties of €10,000, making sure we get our internet regulations right is going to be a costly process.


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