The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022 was signed into law on Saturday, 10 December 2022.

Online safety is one of the headline items covered by the new legislation, and it will be overseen by the newly-established Media Commission (Coimisiún na Meán). The legislation also seeks to implement a number of other key legislative reforms including the transposition of the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the alignment of the regulation of video on-demand services with traditional broadcasting (please see here for an overview of the OSMR Bill published earlier this year).

The Media Commission will have broad investigative and enforcement powers under the legislation and is also set to be Ireland’s “digital services coordinator” under the EU’s Digital Services Act, making it an important new regulator of the technology sector in both Ireland and the EU.

The Media Commission will be empowered to make binding Online Safety Codes with which designated relevant online service providers will be required to comply and will set out rules regarding how those providers should tackle the availability of harmful and illegal content on their services. The Media Commission will also be empowered to introduce an individual complaints mechanism on a phased basis, which will allow users of these services to complain directly to it in respect of online content.

The new online safety law does not come into effect until commenced by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport by way of a Statutory Instrument, although we would expect this to coincide with the formation of the Media Commission. The Minister recently stated that appointments to the Media Commission will be announced in the near future.

For more information on this topic, please contact Andrea Lawler, Partner, Commercial & Technology, Amaia Moore, Solicitor, Commercial & Technology or any member of A&L Goodbody’s Commercial & Technology team.