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Sending unsolicited ‘d**k pics’ on social media to become criminal offence in Ireland

Arts and Media Minister Catherine Martin will bring forward proposals that will allow people to report ‘online flashing’

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Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Sending unsolicited d**k pics on social media will become a criminal offence as part of proposed new legislation that will go before the Cabinet today.

Arts and Media Minister Catherine Martin will bring forward proposals that will allow people to report “online flashing”.

The Minister wants to see flashing under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 extended to the internet and social media.

Sending unsolicited nude images online will be targeted by the new legislation that will also establish a new Online Safety Commissioner with the power to issue takedown orders for videos of people flashing.

Companies that fail to take action on complaints will also face fines of €20 million or 10 per cent of turnover - whichever is larger.

The Online Safety Bill will also see new regulations for broadcasters to ensure gender balance in current affairs programmes.

It will also require more songs written by women will be played on the radio, while stations may be required to publish gender logs to ensure balance between men and women on air.

The Cabinet will also receive an update today on how the Coimisiún Na Meán will be given the legal footing to start bringing forward a complaints system which will enable people to make formal complaints about online platforms.

This complaints system will initially focus on harmful content such as cyber bullying.

It is envisaged that the Coimisiún will be funded by a levy on the online industry.

Last month Minister Martin said a person should be able to complain directly to a new media regulator by the end of 2024 if they have concerns about a child's safety online.

She made the statement as she published a report of the 'Expert Group on an Individual Complaints Mechanism’.

She said: "Any such mechanism does not take away the responsibility of social media services to operate robust and effective processes for handling complaints.

"This is about changing from an era of self-regulation to proper regulation...we're going to make this as strong as can be to protect those who use online services."

The group concluded individual complaints were feasible, but needed to be phased in and complaints could only be made directly to Coimisiún na Meán after a person had exhausted the complaints procedure with the online service responsible.

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