Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny
Via The Irish Times:
Legislation that would force social media companies to reveal the identity of anonymous trolls has been introduced to the Dáil by Sinn Féin. The Social Media Platforms (Defamation Amendment) Bill would hold a company accountable for defamation if they failed to or refused to divulge the identity of an account holder who made defamatory statements on their platform.
The Bill, put forward by Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Martin Kenny, passed through the first stage of the Dáil yesterday and will be debated by TDs at second stage.
Mr Kenny said he hoped the Government would support the legislation and would bring it through the Oireachtas “as quickly as possible”.
“I feel it is the right thing to do for ourselves here [in Leinster House] and for everyone else in society and many people across the country who have been victims of similar [online]attacks in the past,” he said.
“It is important that we get this piece of legislation through.”
Bill on anonymous online defamation passes first stage in Dáil (Irish Times)
Introducing the legislation yesterday, Mr Kenny told the Dail
“The Responsibility of Social Media Platforms (Defamation Amendment) Bill 2022, sets out to amend the Defamation Act 1961 to allow judgments of defamation to be made against social media platforms on which defamatory utterances are made when the social media platform in question is unable to produce the identity of the person who made the utterances and to provide for related matters.
“As we know, there are anonymous people online who sometimes attack, defame and intimidate people. This Bill proposes a change to civil law to allow the person who is the victim of such defamation to take a case against the person who has primary responsibility, that is, the person who uses his or her keyboard or phone to type the defamatory material.
“While it might seem peculiar, I have some sympathy for the social media platforms when they say they are not publishers because they do not have the same editorial oversight as the publisher of a normal publication such as a newspaper.
“That does not exist with social media because it is instant. When somebody puts something up, it is online instantly. There is a difficulty there. The best we have been able to do up to now has been to ask people to take such material down. With this legislation, we are trying to ensure that social media platforms will not be too lax to know who is behind an account.
“They will have to be able to identify such people clearly and to provide that information to a person who has been defamed.
“If a social media company is unable or unwilling to provide such information, it will then be held liable for the defamation. This will put an onus on such companies to keep to an absolute minimum the number of accounts of this nature, accounts that people can hide behind.”
Neale Richmond, Fine Gael TD responded: “The fact that this is coming from Sinn Féin is utterly ironic.
“In advance of the publication, I do hope Sinn Féin themselves have taken a genuine look at the approach of their supporters to social media.”
Sinn Féin is lambasted over ‘ironic’ bill to tackle online trolls (Independent.ie)