Social media firms face fines of up to €20 million for breaches of Ireland’s first online safety code

Robust age verification technology will be required to ensure children are not exposed to pornography

Ireland’s first online safety code will require social media and video-sharing platforms to protect children from harmful content or face the prospect of fines of up to €20 million.

Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new body for regulating broadcasters, on-demand services and online media, has today opened a public consultation on its draft online safety code for video-sharing platform services.

It is envisaged the code will be completed by the autumn, with a view to adopting it by the end of the year.

The draft code states that online platforms based in Ireland will be required to address cyberbullying; online content that promotes or encourages a feeding or eating disorder; and online content that promotes or encourages self-harm or suicide.


The measures include using “robust age verification technology” to make sure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content, such as pornography.

As part of these measures, parents must also be given the tools to ensure children do not encounter illegal or harmful content online.

Platforms will have to prevent the uploading or sharing of a range of illegal content, including that fostering incitement to hatred or violence.

They will also have to provide media literacy tools for users, which can help people recognise disinformation and misinformation.

Once finalised, the code will be legally binding on designated video-sharing platforms based in Ireland. Coimisiún na Meán will be able to impose fines of up to €20 million for breaches of the code.

Online Safety Commissioner, Niamh Hodnett said Coimisiún na Meán was determined to use its full suite of powers to keep people safe online.

“The publication of the draft code is a milestone in the move from self-regulation by platforms to effective regulation,” she said.

“The draft code was informed by the views gathered as part of a call for inputs during the summer from civil society organisations and industry. These insights were extremely valuable in helping us to develop a robust code. We are now inviting members of the public to have their say in this critical part of our new online safety regime.”

Once the consultation closed, she said the body will move to finalise Ireland’s first online safety code.

The finalised code will form part of Ireland’s overall online safety framework, making digital services legally accountable for how they keep people safe online.

This framework will also include the EU Digital Services Act and the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation, enforced in Ireland by Coimisiún na Meán.

“We will be seeking approval from the European Commission to implement the code. This effective regulation of video-sharing platforms will significantly reduce the potential harms that these services can cause to children and young people,” Ms Hodnett said.

The draft Code and the consultation document can be found here. The consultation is open for responses until Friday, 19th January 2024.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent