ISPCC: Child safety measures don’t go far enough

Recommendations on how to protect children while using the internet do not go far enough, claims the ISPCC.

ISPCC: Child safety measures don’t go far enough

The Oireachtas joint committee on children and youth affairs has made 18 recommendations on cybersecurity for young people

They include the appointment of a digital safety commissioner tasked with consulting with social media platforms to strengthen their safety policies for children; and the appointment of teachers as “digital safety ambassadors” in primary and secondary schools.

It wants formal cybersafety education as part of the curriculum and a national strategy on children’s cybersafety.

The ISPCC welcomed the report, but said it does not go far enough, adding that gardaí must be given enhanced powers to investigate online crimes as a priority.

ISPCC chief executive Grainia Long said a digital safety commissioner must have the power to implement statutory regulation.

“We urge the Government to adopt the recommendations and to go further, and require industry to adhere to statutory standards,” she said. “It is imperative now that, as recommended, this office be adequately resourced, with appropriate funding and staffing, and further, with statutory powers.”

Welcoming the report, Barnardos said young people should not be held wholly responsible for safeguarding themselves from abuse online, adding that there is only so much parents can do.

“Social media and online corporations who profit from young people’s use of their platforms play a crucial role too and must do all they can to protect their young users,” said a statement.

“Unfortunately, the response from the industry has been frustratingly lacklustre, focusing on age verification methods which are proven not to work so it’s up to the Government to regulate online companies to make sure children and young people are protected.”

The report also recommends that section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act be repealed and replaced with a new offence of harassment which would include all forms of communication including through digital and online communications.

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