The recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee Report must be implemented and must be further strengthened by statutory regulations, says ISPCC.
In a statement from the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPSS), the organisation has welcomed the Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs.
However, the ISPCC claims the report does not go far enough. The organisation demands that statutory regulations for providers of online services must also be implemented as a priority, as well as enhanced Garda powers to investigate online crimes.
The report does not go far enough.
Grainia Long, CEO of ISPCC said: “Children’s online safety is the child protection issue of our time. In the ISPCC, we hear first-hand the voices of children through our Childline service and our one-to-one work with children.
“They tell us of the need for increased education and awareness. We know from their experiences that regulation and support is needed.
“The ISPCC is pleased to see cross-party support for a national cyber safety strategy. The report’s 18 recommendations emphasise:
– the importance of law reform,
– the need for industry to enhance safety for young people using services,
– the need for the State to play a greater role in regulation, awareness and monitoring of this area through the Office of a Digital Safety Commissioner, education and awareness raising.
Children’s online safety is the child protection issue of our time.
“We agree that cyber safety education needs to be embedded into the curriculum from primary school level, with appropriate supports across the education system. However, the committee recommends that ‘Social media platforms do more to strengthen their safety policies with a view to protecting their users. This could be done in consultation with the proposed Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner.’
Self-regulation of companies that provide services to children online will not be sufficient.
“The ISPCC is of the view that this is not sufficiently robust to protect children. Self-regulation of companies that provide services to children online will not be sufficient. The proposed Office of Digital Safety Commissioner must have the power to implement statutory regulation.
“We urge Government to adopt the recommendations and to go further and require industry to adhere to statutory standards.
We urge Government to go further and require industry to adhere to statutory standards.
“It is imperative now that, as recommended, the Office of Digital Safety Commissioner be adequately resourced, with appropriate funding and staffing, and further, with statutory powers.
“We are pleased to see that the report has acknowledged the programmes and work being carried out by An Garda Síochána on limited resources.
“In implementing these recommendations, the government should also make provision for including enhanced powers and resources for Gardaí, as recommended by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon.
The government should also make provision for including enhanced powers and resources for Gardaí.
“There is now real momentum for change in this area, to better protect children online. A cyber safety strategy must be developed as a priority, in full consultation with stakeholders and with children at its centre, having regard to EU policy development in this area.
“This is part of a suite of inter-dependent measures, including the Data Protection Bill, which must be introduced without delay so that children and young people can continue to enjoy the breadth of opportunities the internet presents in the safest and most supportive environment possible.
“The report is a result of much focused work and significant consultation. It sets a clear direction for what needs to happen now.
“As this is a stated priority for Government, the ISPCC looks forward to its swift adoption and to involvement in developing a comprehensive cross-Government strategy on children’s online safety to help ensure children are safer online.”
The ISPCC Support Line provides a confidential listening service, offering information, advice and emotional support to all members of the public who contact us, on any issue in relation to child protection and welfare.
The ISPCC Mentoring Programme provides mentoring services to parents and young people.