Justice committee calls for public views on online harassment

Oireachtas committee to hold series of hearings on online abuse in October

Online harassment, cyber bullying, online stalking and revenge porn: public’s opinion on these activities is sought by the Committee on Justice and Equality.  Photograph:  Adam Peck/PA

Online harassment, cyber bullying, online stalking and revenge porn: public’s opinion on these activities is sought by the Committee on Justice and Equality. Photograph: Adam Peck/PA

 

An Oireachtas committee has called on members of the public to submit their views around the issues of online harassment, cyber bullying, online stalking and revenge porn.

The Committee on Justice and Equality issued an invitation on Monday for interested parties to present their thoughts on how best to address the problem of online harassment.

The committee said it hoped to ascertain whether social media companies should be made to self-regulate this harmful activity or whether new laws are needed to cover such activities and what form such laws should take.

The committee has requested written submissions ahead of a series of public hearings on the issue which will begin on October 2nd, 2019, with a view to publishing a report on the topic.

‘Gaps in legislation’

In a list of possible issues for consideration during the hearings, the committee noted there are currently “significant gaps in legislation” with regard to online harassment and queried whether the definition of “communications” should be expanded to include online tools such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Snapchat when addressing online bullying.

The committee also questioned how the State could establish an appropriate model addressing these issues without compromising free speech while ensuring that legislation is flexible enough to keep up with changing and advancing technologies.

Parties who wish to submit their views are asked to include a short introduction explaining their area of expertise; any factual information the committee may be able to use to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other groups for their reactions; links to any publications; and any recommendations on the topic.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, September 20th.