European Commission proceedings against Tik Tok for possible breaches of EU Digital Services Act

Coimisiún na Meán is aware that the European Commission has initiated formal proceedings against Tik Tok for possible breaches of the Digital Services Act (DSA). Coimisiún na Meán will provide assistance to the European Commission in this investigation.

Coimisiún na Meán is Ireland’s body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services, and online media, and supporting media development. On Saturday last (17.02.2024) An Coimisiún welcomed the application of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) which is now fully in force in Ireland. The DSA provides new rules for how online services deal with illegal content or apply their own rules.

Under the DSA, the responsibility for supervising Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines is shared between the European Commission and the regulator of the EU Member State where the service has its EU headquarters. Thirteen out of twenty two Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines designated so far, including Tik Tok, have their EU headquarters in Ireland.

Coimisiún na Meán is working closely with the European Commission and other European regulators and today (19.02.2024) attended the inaugural meeting of the European Digital Services Board. The European Board for Digital Services Board is an independent advisory group formed by the European Commission and Member State Digital Service Coordinators, to ensure that the DSA is applied consistently, and that users across the EU enjoy the same rights, regardless of where the online platforms are established.

The Board will be consulted on the enforcement of the DSA and advise on arising issues related to the DSA and can contribute to guidelines and analysis. It will also assist in the supervision of Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines and will issue yearly reports on the prominent systemic risks and best practices in mitigating them.

Coimisiún na Meán welcomes application of the EU Digital Services Act

New EU rules will apply to online services from the 17th of February 2024.

Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services, and online media, and supporting media development, has today (16.02.2023) welcomed the imminent application of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) which comes fully into force in Ireland and across the EU from tomorrow (17.02.2024). The DSA provides new rules for how online services deal with illegal content or apply their own rules.

The DSA, Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Act 2022 and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation (TCOR) come together to form Coimisiún na Meán’s overall Online Safety Framework. This Framework will make digital services accountable for how they protect people, especially children, from harm online and will be used to enforce rules about how online services deal with illegal or harmful content.

Coimisiún na Meán will open its user contact centre on February 19th 2024.The contact centre will provide advice to users on their rights under the Digital Services Act and gather intelligence that will inform An Coimisiún’s supervisory and enforcement activities. When users spot illegal content online, they should flag it to the platform, and the platform will have a duty to stop it.

Commenting, Executive Chairperson of Coimisiún na Meán, Jeremy Godfrey said: “The DSA will form a key part of Coimisiún na Meán’s Online Safety Framework. We will enforce the DSA, so that platforms are accountable for protecting users online, minimising children’s exposure to harmful content and upholding fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.”  

In addition, the DSA provides a framework for cooperation between the EU Commission and national regulatory authorities across Europe. Coimisiún na Meán is responsible for regulating services which have their EU headquarters in Ireland, and the European Commission plays a role in overseeing the largest platforms and search engines.

The Digital Service Commissioner John Evans said: “The DSA will empower people and civil society groups to hold platforms to account for dealing with illegal content. People should remember when they spot illegal content, to flag it, so the platform can stop it. We will engage with platforms large and small to ensure that they live up to their legal obligations. As Ireland’s Digital Services Coordinator, we look forward to working closely with the European Commission and our regulatory counterparts across Europe to ensure that these new rules drive improvements in online safety and ensure that people can continue to enjoy the benefits of being online.”

Sound & Vision 4 – Upcoming Funding Rounds Announced 

Coimisiún na Meán has announced details of upcoming funding rounds under the Sound & Vision 4 Scheme.  

Round 53 – Sound & Vision ‘Open’ Round 

Round 53 will open on 9th April for broadcasters and independent producers to support the production of culturally valuable broadcast content, including content in the Irish language. This round closes at noon on Thursday, 30th May 2024. It is envisaged that funding decisions will be available in August 2024.

Round 54 – Sound & Vision ‘Open’ Round

Round 54 will open on 15th October for broadcasters and independent producers to support the production of culturally valuable broadcast content, including content in the Irish language. This round closes at noon on Thursday, 28th November 2024. It is envisaged that funding decisions will be available by late February 2025.

Relevant Guidelines and Application Forms for each round will be published on the Coimisiún na Meán website on the round opening date.  Webinars for prospective applicants will also be held.  All applications must be submitted via www.cnamonline.ie   

Sound & Vision 4Opening DateApplicant WebinarClosing DateDecisions Expected
Round 53Tuesday
9th April 2024
Tuesday 16th April 2024Thursday
30th May
12 noon
August 2024
Round 54Tuesday
15th October 2024
Tuesday
22nd October 2024
Thursday
28th November
12 noon
Late February 2025

For any Sound & Vision specific enquires please contact: info@cnam.ie

Letter to editor regarding age verification and media commentary in relation to draft Online Safety Code

Copy of a letter sent to the editor of the Irish Times by Executive Chair Jeremy Godfrey on January 25th.

Karlin Lillington’s technology column of January 25th in the Irish Times badly mischaracterises Coimisiún na Meán’s proposals in relation to age verification by online video-sharing platforms.

She accuses us of proposing to create a porn user register and repeats baseless online claims that people would have to upload their identity documents and facial scans, with porn sites retaining this information for six years. She even suggests that this could be required when people only want to view cat videos.

She rightly says that such a proposal would be bonkers. We agree. Which is why we have neither considered it nor proposed it.

There is ample evidence of the harm caused by children having easy access to online pornography, but measures to reduce this access need to respect the privacy of users and interfere as little as possible with the ability of adults to view content that is lawful.

Coimisiún na Meán is currently consulting on a draft Online Safety Code for video-sharing platforms, including age verification measures. Our proposal is that video-sharing platforms based in Ireland should not knowingly show pornographic content to users, unless they have verified that the user concerned is an adult.

Most platforms in Ireland do not permit pornography, and this proposal will have no implications for them or their users. Even platforms that do permit pornography would need only to verify the age of those users who wish to view it. Users whose interests are limited to cat videos would have no need to verify their age.

We are not proposing to be prescriptive about the age verification technique that platforms must use before showing pornography to users. It is for platforms to choose a technique that ensures children are not normally able to access pornography, and to implement it in a way that complies with the GDPR. Uploading documents and/or a live selfie is one such technique, when accompanied by appropriate privacy protections.

But merely asking a user to declare they are over 18 is not good enough to stop children from accessing pornography. This is a widespread concern across Europe, and applies to adult sites in other Member States. We are therefore working with the European Commission and our counterparts across Europe to ensure that there is a pan-European approach to tackling this issue.

We are committed to improving online safety, as part of a thriving, diverse and safe media landscape. While regulating licensed broadcasters is different to regulating online platforms, the end-goal of ensuring that audiences can access pluralistic, culturally, linguistically and socially relevant content, while being protected from harm, remains the same. We are focused on delivering on our mission for the benefit of everyone in Ireland and across Europe.