A new State identification number system should be rolled out to prevent fake online accounts which target children, a government minister has suggested.
The Online Verification Code (OVC) which could be produced by the Department of Social Protection would also stop underage children setting up Facebook or other online accounts.
Junior health minister Jim Daly wants to introduce a verification system that would make a unique code created by the Government part of the registration process when setting up a social media account.
He said: “There is a growing epidemic of young unauthorised persons registering on social media platforms and also the registration of fake accounts.”
Mr Daly hopes to meet Facebook chiefs in the new year after writing to the company about establishing a verification process.
He said the OVC would allow a crosscheck to be performed to confirm that a person wanting to set up a new Facebook account is old enough and that their names match that given on the application.
“It is a basic fundamental that we should all know who we are communicating with,” said Mr Daly. “We must now recognise that social media is an extraordinarily powerful presence in our society and is responsible for much good, but also responsible for too much negative developments in our society.”
Writing to Facebook chiefs as both a public representative and a father, Mr Daly said: “In years to come, we will all look back at this situation and ask ourselves how did we let it go? We had a chance to do something and we did nothing.”
The Cork South-West TD has also been in contact with the Taoiseach, the minister for children, and the social protection minister about setting up an OVC system.
However, he stressed that confidential personal details would not be shared with social media platforms and “rather it puts the onus on companies to confirm that applicants details are true and correct.”
Mr Daly believes that an authorisation process should be introduced across the European Union and has also written to EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
“Children who use these platforms cannot escape the dark side of the world wide web as they continue to ping even as they try to sleep at night,” he said. “There is no escaping the online bully.
“Ireland and the EU can be leaders in making efforts to address the gaping hole and irresponsible governance around the world.”
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