Proof of ID 'a must' to set up social media account, say TDs

The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will set up the Media Commission, which will potentially be one of the most powerful regulators in the State
Proof of ID 'a must' to set up social media account, say TDs

The Children’s Rights Alliance, CyberSafeKids and the ISPCC are urging politicians to use the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill to mark the end of self-regulation for tech and social media giants.

People should be required to show proof of ID to set up any social media account, Government and opposition TDs have said.

The Children’s Rights Alliance, CyberSafeKids and the ISPCC are urging politicians to use the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill to mark the end of self-regulation for tech and social media giants.

"For too long now, the responsibility to keep yourself safe has rested with young users themselves or with their parents. 

The expectation has been with children, parents or teachers to take action when something goes wrong. We are saying enough is enough. 

"Government action in this space has already been delayed," Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said.

An Oireachtas Committee has commenced pre-legislative scrutiny of the online safety Bill, that will set up the Media Commission, which will potentially be one of the most powerful regulators in the State as it will oversee all media, including the tech companies.

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne said that if a person wants to open an online banking account, such as a Revolut account, they will be asked for a passport or other form of ID and it should be the same for all social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.

"There has to be a mechanism whereby, and this is an engineering solution, that you need to identify yourself to the company," he said.

He said whistle-blowers and satirical accounts could retain their anonymity under this system, but the online platforms would still be able to verify the identify of the person behind the account.

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin agreed that there are some instances where a person may not want to have their identity appear online, however, he said platforms could still ask for documentation in order to set up an account.

"In order to ensure that people don't choose anonymity for hate speech, for bullying, for slander or for inappropriate purposes, whoever is authorising that account should be able to verify and provide information about that account holder if, for example, there's a breach of the law and the gardaí need that information," he said.

"I mean think about it this way, if I want to advertise on Facebook, or if I want to sell books on Amazon, I have to give them my passport, and that's a way of verifying who I am," he said.

Mr Ó Broin added that social media platforms must be regulated in the same way as publishers such as newspapers and other media.

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