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Thread: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

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    Default The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Or to give it its official title, the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications.

    The Committee met today in private session and agreed to "explore, over a series of hearings, how the irresponsible use of social media channels might be curbed" according to a committee source quoted by the Irish Times. "It's not about politicians", according to this source, but will be an exercise which is intent on exploring how the rights of ordinary citizens can be upheld on social media outlets.

    Public meetings of the committee will begin in February and submissions will be invited from interested parties and social media channels may be used to receive submissions to get a wide range of view points

    Representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube will also be invited to appear.

    The committee will produce a report to be presented to Pat Rabbitte sometime in the coming months.

    The membership of the Committee is as follows:

    Michael Colreavy, SF. Sligo/Leitrim North
    http://www.colreavy.net
    https://www.facebook.com/michael.colreavy

    Timmy Dooley, FF. Clare
    https://www.facebook.com/timmy.dooley
    https://twitter.com/timmydooley

    Dessie Ellis, SF. Dublin-North
    https://www.facebook.com/dessie.ellis
    https://twitter.com/cllrdessieellis

    Terence Flanagan, FG, Dublin North-East
    https://twitter.com/TFlanaganTD
    https://www.facebook.com/terencefg

    Tom Fleming, Independent, Kerry South

    Noe Harrington, Fine Gael. Cork South-West.
    https://www.facebook.com/noel.harrington
    https://twitter.com/#!/nharrington2

    Tom Hayes, FG. Tipp South.
    https://twitter.com/TomhayesTD

    Colm Keaveney, Labour. Galway East.
    http://www.colmkeaveney.ie
    https://twitter.com/Colm_Keaveney

    Sean Kenny, Labour
    http://www.seankenny.ie
    https://www.facebook.com/SeanKennyTD
    https://twitter.com/SeanKennyTD

    Mattie McGrath Independent. South Tipp.
    https://www.facebook.com/MattieMcGrathTD
    https://twitter.com/mattiemcgrathtd

    Michael Moynihan, FF. Cork North-West
    http://michaelmoynihantd.ie

    Patrick O"Donovan, FG. Limerick.
    https://twitter.com/podonovan
    https://www.facebook.com/podonovantd

    John O'Mahoney, FG. Mayo
    https://www.facebook.com/john.omahonytd
    https://twitter.com/JohnOMahonyTD


    Ann Phelan, Labour. Carlow-Kilkenny.
    https://www.facebook.com/ann.phelan.9

    Brian Walsh, FG. Galway West.
    https://www.facebook.com/brian.walshtd
    https://twitter.com/brianwalshfg
    Last edited by C. Flower; 17-01-2013 at 08:37 AM.

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Thanks for posting these PJ.

    PW should make a campaign of this...

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by Anti-Coalition View Post
    Thanks for posting these PJ.

    PW should make a campaign of this...
    PW has been working to support digital rights for some time and will continue to do so.

    I would hope that we might see a good input from the NUJ, from the various digital and human rights bodies.

    I am glad to see that the members of the committee are going to inform themselves. There has been a very obvious lack of basic knowledge of digital rights and responsibilities in what has been published on this in the old media to date.

    As the Committee has said that it is not going to focus on politicians, it seems that it has taken on board the Constitutional entitlement of citizens to criticise politicians.

    The most important thing of course is to continue to take part in discussions here, both serious and not so serious, observing forum rules and providing information, enlightenment and entertainment to each other and to readers.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 17-01-2013 at 09:04 AM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Irish Times report here.

    Representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are to be invited to appear before an Oireachtas committee investigating abuses of social media.

    The Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications today decided to invite the service providers to “hear their views” on social media and on “public concerns” about it, Labour TD Sean Kenny said after the private meeting.

    The committee today agreed to "explore, over a series of hearings, how the irresponsible use of social media channels might be curbed", an Oireachtas source said.

    Its consideration of the area was "not about politicians" but was " an exercise which is intent on exploring how the rights of ordinary citizens can be upheld on social media outlets," the source said.

    Before beginning public meetings it is be appropriate to "assess the existing protections for citizens around social media", the source said.

    Among the elements it will explore are the channels, legal or otherwise, which "currently exist to provide an ordinary member of the public who has been a victim of inappropriate use of social media with an opportunity for redress". It will also look at misuse of social media in other jurisdictions.

    The committee will host a series of public meetings in February. At this point it will consider a public consultation and may use a number of social media channels to receive submissions to get a wide range of view points.

    The meeting today decided the committee’s work programme in the coming weeks and decided to invite data protection and other legal representatives to hear their views on abuses of social media, Mr Kenny said.

    The committee decided last month to begin the investigation and it will compile a report to present to Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte in the coming months.

    Among the matters it will look into are cyberbullying and abusive remarks on social media.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...reaking56.html

    The report also gives details of a submission by a Labour Councillor and barrister, Richard Humphreys - it would be useful to have sight of the full submission.

    Good to see that they will be using social media to invite submissions.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 17-01-2013 at 10:01 AM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    I see from that article Data Protection have been invited. I wonder if that has anything to do with this ?

    Irish EU Council Presidency Proposes Destruction Of Right To Privacy-

    http://edri.org/edrigram/number11.1/...idency-privacy
    Thomas Jefferson : Banking Establishments are More Dangerous to our Liberties than Standing Armies.

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by ang View Post
    I see from that article Data Protection have been invited. I wonder if that has anything to do with this ?

    Irish EU Council Presidency Proposes Destruction Of Right To Privacy-

    http://edri.org/edrigram/number11.1/...idency-privacy
    Alan Shatter has had a new Privacy Bill drawn up since early last year. It occurred to me that Jody Corcoran's article might in part have had it in mind.
    It would make things even more restrictive on the Irish media than they already are.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    If the politicians have decided to remove political discussion from the agenda, it could be viewed as a shrewed move.

    If general conditions for online discussion were heavily regulated, this would obviously knock on to political discussion whether intended to or not.

    So, in effect, it is hard to see how it would be possible to exclude political discussion from the effects of any general regulation of access to internet discussion.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    The Committee will be looking at guidelines adopted by some service providers in Australia

    http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1...otocols/?cs=12


    Microsoft's response (favourable )

    http://www.microsoft.com/australia/p...rking-Protocol

    Twitter has not bitten.

    It seems to me to be overtly controlling in terms of government contact and unrealistic given the speed at which
    sites come and go.
    Yesterday, the Federal Government announced that it had established a protocol
    targeting online anti-social behaviour such as cyber-bullying and “trolling”.


    The protocol, entitled the “The Cooperative Arrangement for Complaints Handling on
    Social Networking Sites”, is largely directed at the major social networking sites, with
    Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! all agreeing to participate. As yet, Twitter has
    yet to commit to the arrangement, although the Government has indicated that the
    parties are in discussions and has placed public pressure on Twitter to embrace the
    protocol, singling it out as a popular medium for such behaviour.


    The protocol establishes a broad set of guidelines to be implemented by social
    networking sites, including:



    • establishing acceptable use policies which clearly define inappropriate behaviour and set out the consequences of breaching such policies;
    • introducing mechanisms which facilitate the reporting of inappropriate behaviour.
    • the implementation of review processes for handling complaints, including sanctions for noncompliance with acceptable use policies (i.e. removal of content and suspension/closure of accounts)
    • ensuring the timely removal of child abuse material;
    • the establishment a Government “contact person” with whom the Government can discuss any appropriate issues;
    • providing the knowledge and guidance that will enable users to navigate the site safely;
    • supporting the Government on any cyber-safety or relevant initiatives as well as contributing to or collaborating with them;
    • striving to provide and promote useful user safety services; and
    • attending biannual meetings with government officials to discuss emerging issues and trends.


    Notably, it is the social networking sites who are charged with designing policies and procedures which give effect to the protocol. Moreover, the protocol is non-binding, is intended to supplement existing policies which address these issues, and is self-monitored by social networking sites.

    In light of the above, it will be interesting to observe how the social networking sites develop such policies given the freedom afforded to them, in particular the sanctions which they choose to impose for policy breaches. In the case of several of the guidelines, the sites already have measures in place and may rely on those without further change. The Government has also indicated that it intends to liaise with social networking sites to develop the protocol further.

    The Federal Government’s announcement yesterday follows the proposal earlier this week to prohibit information being posted to social media sites from inside New South Wales’ courtrooms. Both initiatives raise monitoring and compliance costs for social networking sites and may increase their exposure to legal claims from people affected by material published on their sites.


    http://www.addisonslawyers.com.au/kn...llying407.aspx
    Last edited by C. Flower; 17-01-2013 at 02:31 PM.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    A reasonable approach (on the face of it) in the UK

    Facebook and Twitter users who threaten violence online will face criminal charges in Britain, while people posting “grossly offensive” comments may avoid punishment by hitting the delete button, prosecutors said.


    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...utors-say.html
    Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. ~Oscar Ameringer

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by DCon View Post
    A reasonable approach (on the face of it) in the UK
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...utors-say.html
    We have these draft guidelines posted I think on the thread on the bullying of social media.

    There have been some outrageous sentences passed on young people for tweets, imo, in the UK.

    There is a legal regime creeping in there that under the guise of preventing incitement to hatred and protecting public order, has become punitive of people expressing a political or religious view.

    I would not think the UK a good model.

    These draft guidelines have rowed back to some extent from the position taken in some of these prosecutions.

    It is clarified that being offensive (or, as Elaine Byrne said, snide) is not illegal. But it is far from a rights based approach that equally protects peoples rights of expression as well as rights to personal safety.

    These guidelines don't deal with defamation cases, which are taken by individuals, and relate to state prosecutions only.
    Under the new rules, users who post offensive non-violent messages may avoid prosecution if the communications in question are deleted quickly and weren’t intended for a wide audience. Such cases may not be in the public interest, the CPS said.

    “The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humor, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it,” Starmer said.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by DCon View Post
    A reasonable approach (on the face of it) in the UK





    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...utors-say.html
    Frankie Boyle would be then be faced with closing down his account. His humour sometimes just about stays behind that line that is not to be crossed...
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    I just spotted this article from last Saturday's Independent, which has a lot of relevant quotes, and also shows clearly how McEntee is going to be martyred, and used to justify proposed restrictions on communications in Ireland, which will of course have huge implications abroad. That's one reason I am surprised that the story about the summoning of social media companies, before the Oireachtas committee, has not drawn international attention.

    But calls for tighter controls on social media from the political elite are met with frustration by many who work at the coalface of social-media bullying.

    The notion of introducing a law that will stamp out online abuse is futile, they say, as legislation is already in place but is just not being used by gardai, victims or families.

    They cite the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. "In Ireland, we already have laws that can be used to deal with cyber-bullying," says online security expert Paul C Dwyer, president of the International Cyber Threat Task Force.

    "There needs to be a public awareness campaign to drive home the fact that what is illegal offline is illegal online. If people think they can hide anonymously behind their computer, they are wrong. In many cases, their identity can be easily found out through their IP address. It is not sophisticated criminals doing this.

    "But the solution lies in education, and making cyber bullies aware that they can be very easily prosecuted. People are not using the law because they do not know it is there. If a child is being bullied online, some parents might go to the local garda station, but the local guard doesn't understand any of this and they are being fobbed off. Most cases do not get past first block."
    Incidentally, I am surprised that there has been no international reporting of the move to drag Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (and surely Google) into the Oireachtas Committee. As has been already pointed out, they are perhaps weakest here in Ireland, because they are domiciled here, and cannot hide behind the normal jurisdictional problems posed by the internet.
    And then there is the advertising angle. I just read in the Irish Times business section (not online for some reason) the other day, how Dell, and so many other companies see their futures in being able to advertise on social media, and are spending a lot of money on it:

    Lawyers specialising in online abuse believe a landmark legal action here could curb the problem.

    "It would help if victims started to take a stand," says employment law solicitor Linda Hynes of Leman Solicitors. "It will come down to a couple of test cases to ascertain what online harassment actually is and who is responsible. There are sufficient ways the gardai can prosecute.

    "Employers need to take a much stronger role as they could find themselves implicated, too. If an employee sends an abusive tweet or email from work, even from their own smartphone in the canteen, their boss could be deemed vicariously liable if it was held to be in the scope of their employment. Companies need to make it clear that online abuse won't be tolerated if it happens during work time."

    Lifting the veil of anonymity on internet trolls and forcing them to use real names is seen by some as another way to stamp out the vast amount of offensive material online.

    Social networks Facebook and Google+ have been at the forefront of a corporate battle to make users log in using their real names.

    Known online as the 'nymwars', it is widely believed to be less about opposing pseudonyms and more about giving companies access to information about users which is valuable to advertisers.
    So, this reduces the chances of social media companies fighting hard to protect anonymity, or freedom of speech, for that matter.

    Pseudonym advocates say without anonymity the world would be deprived of whistle-blowing freedom fighters whose tweets from countries like Egypt and Iran have shed light on the actions of repressive regimes.

    Joichi Ito, head of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the real risk is if information technology pivots to "a completely authentic identity for everyone".

    "In the US, maybe you don't mind. If every kid in Syria, every time they used the internet, their identity was visible, they would be dead."

    Critics also argue that real-name policies adopted in some countries ended in failure. South Korea introduced such a law in 2007 after the suicide of an actress who had been bullied online. Last year, a massive security breach occurred when hackers stole the national identity numbers (equivalent of PPS) of 35 million internet users who had been forced to provide them when registering on websites to verify their identity.

    The debacle not only left the country with an identity theft crisis – it also stifled political debate online. Last year, the government decided to abandon the real-name policy.

    The Australian government, too, has rejected its five-year plan to introduce a compulsory filter blocking offensive internet content. Opponents said it would put the country on a censorship par with China, which has passed a measure requiring all internet users to register their real names.

    Whether this is a route that Irish legislators will choose to go down in 2013 is unknown. But what is almost certain is that it is only a matter of time before another life is lost through cyber intimidation. "Are we going to wait until there are 10 children dead, or 20?" asks Dwyer.

    "The cyber 9/11 for Ireland may be the death of a politician. There is a way out of this. The game-changer will be a prosecution, the naming and shaming of a cyber bully. We have the technology and the law to do it. We just have to act on it."
    A concerted effort is needed here to monitor all the media stories on this topic, and to encourage active participation in the public consultation that has been promised
    Last edited by Anti-Coalition; 19-01-2013 at 07:41 AM.

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by Anti-Coalition View Post
    I just spotted this article from last Saturday's Independent, which has a lot of relevant quotes, and also shows clearly how McEntee is going to be martyred, and used to justify proposed restrictions on communications in Ireland, which will of course have huge implications abroad. That's one reason I am surprised that the story about the summoning of social media companies, before the Oireachtas committee, has not drawn international attention.

    And then there is the advertising angle. I just read in the Irish Times business section (not online for some reason) the other day, how Dell, and so many other companies see their futures in being able to advertise on social media, and are spending a lot of money on it:

    So, this reduces the chances of social media companies fighting hard to protect anonymity, or freedom of speech, for that matter.

    A concerted effort is needed here to monitor all the media stories on this topic, and to encourage active participation in the public consultation that has been promised
    That is a useful article, thanks. Much of it is covered elsewhere, but there are some useful things in there - detail of how Australia had to pull back from "throttling" for example.

    In recent press, the view of Shane McEntee's death has been presented in a much more nuanced and tempered way. I am quite sure that he did not end his life because of social media discussion. That has been well covered elsewhere. Likewise, in the other cases reported as "caused by cyber bullying" texting and chatroom bullying was an extension of face to face bullying between people who knew each other.

    There are pushes and pulls in social media use and restriction. As the article rightly says advertising revenue is the main driver for the very big corporations Google and Facebook. They like to get your real identity in order to sell the details of it to advertisers. However, Face Book is getting to be a less and less comfortable and safe environment for users because of this agenda.

    Fergus Finlay had to back track last week after his article railing against anonymity. Anonymity is recommended by Barnardos and all other responsible organisations giving advice to internet users, not to give your name and details online.

    Online services providing suicide prevention support would be the first to emphasise the need for on online anonymity.

    It is not all about political discussion rights, that are also mentioned in the article.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    In recent press, the view of Shane McEntee's death has been presented in a much more nuanced and tempered way. I am quite sure that he did not end his life because of social media discussion.
    What i don't understand is why the real victims of cyber-bullying, or social media libel, such as the teenage girls who recently committed suicide here in Ireland, are not being mentioned at all by the reports on the Committee hearings, or the politicians.

    This is a real problem, and needs real solutions, and it doesn't seem that social media companies have taken it on. There needs to be a panic button for teenagers, who are being abused like this, followed by swift action on the part of the social media companies. But it appears they just don't want to spend the money enforcing the rules they already have in place - or the laws already in place - never mind introduce new ones.

    I think the issue is that once they agree to moderation of content, they are also agreeing to be legally and financially liable, maybe even criminally culpable, for failures of that moderation system.

    It is easy to see the problems in moderating this small discussion network. Can you imagine the cost of closely moderating what hundreds of millions of users on the social media sites would be.

    In addition, who would want to use social media, if they knew every word they wrote was being approved/disapproved by some moderator, probably in a sweat-shop in India?
    Last edited by Anti-Coalition; 19-01-2013 at 01:31 PM.

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    Default Re: The 'Social Media' Oireachtas Committee begins its proceedings

    Quote Originally Posted by Anti-Coalition View Post
    What i don't understand is why the real victims of cyber-bullying, or social media libel, such as the teenage girls who recently committed suicide here in Ireland, are not being mentioned at all by the reports on the Committee hearings, or the politicians.

    This is a real problem, and needs real solutions, and it doesn't seem that social media companies have taken it on. There needs to be a panic button for teenagers, who are being abused like this, followed by swift action on the part of the social media companies. But it appears they just don't want to spend the money enforcing the rules they already have in place - or the laws already in place - let alone introduce new ones.
    They are being mentioned - although, as yet, I have not heard of any investigation that has reached conclusions on what may have caused their deaths. The copycat effects from over dramatic press headlines should certainly be looked at as a potential contributor (based on the findings of substantial research).

    The Oireachtas Committee that met in private reportedly decided not to look at the situation of politicians.

    I imagine the reason for this might be twofold - the fact that the Constitution specifies political criticism as a freedom of speech right (unless seditionary) and the amount of ridicule they would have been exposed to had they gone this route, given the frequently abusive behaviour by politicians in the Dail and on other media, and their love of giving "unattributed " briefings to the media.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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