Published date: 20 Feb 2024

Coimisiún na Meán faces its first real test in setting the tone for how seriously we take children’s safety online

Coimisiún na Meán faces its first real test in setting the tone for how seriously we take children’s safety online.

Child Safety Online receives as an ‘A’ in Report Card 2024 but draft online safety code will be first real test for new media commission


Today (20.02.2024), Children’s Rights Alliance publishes its annual Report Card 2024. This is the fourth analysis of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party’s joint Programme for Government: Our Shared Future and how it performed for children in 2023.

  • Report Card 2024 awards the Government an ‘A’ grade for progress made on their commitment to enact Online Safety and Media Regulation (OSMR) Bill and establish an Online Safety Commissioner

Speaking to the high grade in this year’s Report Card, Noeline Blackwell, Online Safety Coordinator for the Children’s Rights Alliance says:

As advocates for a dedicated Online Safety Commissioner, with the power to hold big tech and online platforms accountable for the harms happening under their watch, we welcome the Government’s steady progress on their commitment to keeping children safe online. It is very positive to see an ‘A’ grade in recognition of the efforts made in 2023 by Government which included the appointment of an Executive Chairperson and Commissioners to Coimisiún na Meán, as well as a Youth Advisory Panel to ensure young people’s voices are central to decisions that will undoubtedly have a major impact on how they engage with the online world.”

While we recognise the great strides the Government has made in the past four years to fulfil this commitment, it is important to note that we are operating in a very different context to the one in which this Programme for Government was draftedcontinued Noeline Blackwell. “The groundswell of support to end the era of self-regulation for big tech has now reached the highest levels of governments across Europe and beyond. With this, we are starting to see the true colours of the biggest operators in the online space as they push back against Ireland’s national legislation and the EU Digital Services Act that are introducing a new age of accountability and responsibility for platforms.”

We know all too well the harms that can occur on online platforms, particularly when they are left to their own devices to set standards for safety or moderation. These standards should not be set solely by those who benefit from children and young people’s attention and engagement. Coimisúin na Meán have an opportunity to set the tone for how seriously we take our children’s safety and wellbeing in the online world, through the development of a legally-binding Online Safety Code.”

“The first Code will be the first real test of the new Online Safety Commissioner as regulator. However, the current draft Code does not take the reins back from the largest platforms who will still be permitted to set their own standards. This results in varying and indefinite thresholds for what is harmful and what is not. While online, children risk being exposed to online grooming, extortion,  harmful and violent content, and relentless cyberbullying. Without any grounding guidelines or targets set to hold platforms to account, they can continue to decide themselves what content is permissible and when they will intervene. For a child or young person who experiences harm online, the reporting systems are unclear and confusing to navigate, resulting in almost one third of children who see or experience something online that bothers them keeping it to themselves rather than report it to their parents or someone else. The lack of guidelines and targets only allows the cycle to continue and the risk of harm to multiply.

“Looking at the journey the Government has taken over the past four years, it would be bitterly disappointing to see this Online Safety Code fall at the first hurdle. The current draft fails to embed the principle of ‘safety by design’ and in doing so, leaves the door open for platforms to continue developing their services to maximise profit and engagement. There is ample evidence as to how the very architecture of these platforms poses a threat to children and young people when online – they are not designed with their best interest at heart. It is therefore critically important that the final code is robust enough to ensure that children’s safety is a priority from the planning stages of technology development onwards. This should apply not only to services specifically targeted to children and young people, but to all digital services they are likely to access.  Government needs to step up to ensure that the Online Safety Commissioner is supported to guarantee that children’s best interest is the driving force of new regulations,” concluded Noeline Blackwell.


The full Report Card 2024 is available on the Children’s Rights Alliance website here.

For more information/interviews contact:

Robyn at [email protected] or 085 800 1275 /
Emma at [email protected] / 087 997 1410

Notes to Editors:

Available for interview –

  • Noeline Blackwell, Online Safety Co-ordinator, Children’s Rights Alliance
  • You can read our submission to the Drafty Online Safety Code here.

For media queries, please contact:

Emma Archbold

Campaigns and Communications Director