The Government has published its legislation programme for Autumn 2020. The programme includes: 30 priority Bills; 50 Bills that are expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny; 87 Bills where preparatory work is underway, and 14 Bills which are currently before the Oireachtas.

Key Bills of relevance to the data protection, commercial and technology sector include:

Priority Legislation 

  • Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill – This Bill will provide for the legislative needs that will arise at the end of the Brexit transition period.

Bills expected to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny  

  • Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill – This Bill will provide for the establishment of a Media Commission (including an Online Safety Commissioner), the dissolution of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, a regulatory framework to tackle harmful online content, and implementation of the revised Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive 2018/1808. The general scheme of the Bill was published in January 2020, and the  legislative programme indicates that further heads are in preparation. Member States are expected to implement the AVMS Directive in national law by 19 September 2020, so Ireland will miss this deadline.
  • Consumer Rights Bill– This Bill will give effect to EU Directive 770/2019 on consumer contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services, EU Directive 771/2019 on consumer contracts for the sale of goods, and to update and consolidate the statutory provisions on consumer rights and remedies in relation to contracts for the supply of non-digital services, unfair contract terms, and information and cancellation rights.

Other Bills where preparatory work is underway

  • Amendment of the Constitution (Unified Patent Court) Bill – This Bill will amend the Constitution in order to allow for Ireland’s participation in a Unified Patent Court.
  • Communications (Data, Retention and Disclosure) Bill – This Bill will revise and replace the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011. The Heads of Bill were published in October 2017, following publication of Mr Justice Murray’s Report reviewing the ‘Law on the Retention of and Access to Communications Data’, which found that many features of the 2011 Act are precluded by EU law. In Dwyer v Commissioner of An Garda Siochána, the High Court made a declaration that section 6(1)(a) of the 2011 Act is inconsistent with EU law, insofar it allows telephony data to be retained on a general and indiscriminate basis.  Earlier this year, the Supreme Court referred questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in relation to this case. The new Bill have to take account of the outcome of the CJEU referral.
  • Cybercrime Bill – This Bill will give effect to those provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime 2001 not already provided for in national law, in order to enable ratification of the Convention.
  • Hate Crime and Hate Speech Bill – This Bill will repeal the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, to provide for new and aggravated offences and a new offence of incitement. Last year, the government opened a public consultation on how existing legislation on hate speech can be improved.
  • Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill – This Bill will amend various pieces of legislation in respect of electronic communications. In 2016, the government published a policy document discussing why this area of law needs to be amended (discussed here).

We will keep you updated on the progress of these Bills.