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Internet watchdog ‘not an online censor’, cttee to hear

The Digital Services Commissioner at media regulator Coimisiún na Meán will tell an Oireachtas committee today that it is not their job to act as an online censor.

John Evans is due to appear before the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee to discuss the operation and resourcing of Coimisiún na Meán.

Earlier this month, the regulator assumed new powers under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA).

The DSA requires online platforms to do more when it comes to policing illegal content and the spread of disinformation.

Ireland will play a leading role in enforcing the new online safety rules because so many of the big tech firms have their European headquarters here.

Last week, Coimisiún na Meán opened a new contact centre for members of the public who are looking for advice or who want to raise concerns about online content.

“Coimisiún na Meán can receive complaints from users of online services who believe the provider of an online service has not complied with its obligations under the EU Digital Service Act (DSA),” Mr Evans is expected to tell the committee.

According to his opening statement, Mr Evans will tell members that as well as offering advice and support, the contact centre will provide real-world intelligence that can be fed into its platform supervision teams who can take action when the rules are broken.

“While it is within Coimisiún na Meán’s remit to assess if providers of an online service are doing what they are obliged to do under the DSA in relation to illegal content, it is not our role to act as an online censor or to tell people what they can or cannot say,” Mr Evans is expected to say.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting, Committee Cathaoirleach Maurice Quinlivan said Coimisiún na Meán’s remit covers broadcasting and on-demand regulation, media development and online safety.

“We look forward to receiving an overview of the work and structure of Coimisiún na Meán, the EU Digital Services Act and what it means for citizens,” Mr Quinlivan said.

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