Social media firms could face €2bn fines over bullying

Proposed legislation to counter cyber bullying across European Union


Large social media companies could face fines of up to €2bn if they are found in breach of new cyber bullying laws being drawn up by the European Parliament.

Speaking at a conference on cyber bullying in Limerick today Seán Kelly MEP and the author of Data Protection Regulations for European the Parliament said large penalties are among a series of proposals being considered.

“The whole area of monitoring the internet and the responsibility of operators has to be focussed on a little more especially in relation the protection of minors. If there are breaches of the regulations I think the stronger the sanctions the less likely you are to have breaches and we are putting a lot of emphasis on that including fines of up to €2bn for international brands like Facebook and Google,” Mr Kelly said.

“I think often if the sanctions aren’t stringent enough it is easy to ignore them, but if the sanction is stringent enough it puts a further responsibility and motivation in the way of the operators and ensures they do it right from the beginning,” he added.

According to Mr Kelly the proposed rules will apply across the 28 member states and its is planned that the guidelines will be published before the end of the five year term of the current European Parliament next May.

The guidelines will deal with the rights of the citizen and the transfer of data.

The rules will also govern negligence in notifying breaches and time delays in dealing with breaches.

The conference on cyber bullying in Limerick also heard contributors appeal to companies like Facebook to do more to promote their online data safety and protection features.

In his address Cormac Kennan, Head, Users Operations Team, Facebook, spoke about the companies special report mechanism which covers deceased users, under age users and impersonations.

He explained that complaints are entered into a reporting queue for investigation but are prioritised in accordance with their gravity and cited suicide as a big priority.

The conference heard that a lot of cyber bullying starts in the class room but extends on line and there is a need for on line bullying to be tackled in the classroom.

A recent survey by the website found that 74 per cent of parents did not know what website their children used or that children could download over 18’s applications,

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