A bill that sets up a protective regulatory framework for users of digital services in the EU has passed through its final stages in the Oireachtas.
The Digital Services Bill 2023 provides the legal basis for implementing an EU law that sets out new obligations for technology companies – including social-media platforms and digital marketplaces.
The regulation, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) comes into effect on 17 February 2024.
It obliges digital providers to speed up the identification and removal of illegal and harmful content and to improve transparency, giving users more control over their online experience.
Dara Calleary (Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation) said yesterday (8 February) that the bill ensured that rights and protections provided for in the EU regulation would be “rigorously asserted” in Ireland.
He added that Ireland had a particularly important enforcement role, and that additional funding would go to Coimisiún na Meán and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to ensure that they were “properly resourced for the job ahead”.
The bill designates Coimisiún na Meán as the Digital Services Coordinator and lead competent authority.
It adds to it the functions of the Digital Services Coordinator and adapts its existing powers, such as powers of investigation and the power to impose financial sanctions, for the specific cases where it will be implementing provisions of the EU regulation.
Fines and penalties
While Coimisiún na Meán will be the point of contact with lead responsibility for all DSA matters – including EU co-ordination – as well as handling complaints and policy development, the CCPC will be designated as a second competent authority, with specific responsibility for online marketplaces.
The bill gives authorities powers for supervision and enforcement of the DSA – including the ability to impose administrative fines and penalties.
According to the Government, €2.7 million was allocated in 2023 to support the establishment of the Digital Services Coordinator function within Coimisiún na Meán.
This year €6 million is earmarked to complete preparations and recruitment for the function, and to support initial operations after 17 February.