Social Media Transparency Bill 2017

We are all aware of the substantial and increasing role of social media and online fora on our public discourse and in the political sphere. Yet the many rules and safeguards which have emerged in the traditional spaces, everything from disclosure of donations to campaign fund caps, to a requirement that all printed materials must carry a label saying who printed and published them. None of these checks are present in the online space as the legislation has not kept pace with technology.

I introduced my social media transparency bill in the chamber today. The bill applies only to 1) paid political advertising 2) deliberate usage of multiple fake accounts for political purposes (bots).

The main provisions of the bill are:

– The requirement for a disclosure statement on any online political advertising
– The disclosure statement is similar to that already on printed flyers and election posters
– The disclosure statement will state exactly who published and sponsored the post and the target audience
– The social media platforms will be required to capture this information when the ads are purchased
– Failure to provide accurate or truthful information in the disclosure statement will be an offence
– Separately, deliberate usage of multiple fake accounts, for political purposes shall be an offence
– The prohibition on the use of public money for party political uses is re-stated (as per the McKenna judgments)

A link to the bill is Online_Advertising_Social_Media_Transparency_Bill_2017 and my speech earlier today, introducing the bill, is below.

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Intel plans for Leixlip welcomed as further commitment to the area

James Lawless T.D. at a recent event in Intel, Leixlip. Pictured with Cllr. Paul Ward.

James Lawless T.D. at a recent event in Intel, Leixlip. Pictured with Cllr. Paul Ward.

It is welcome news that Intel has begun preparations for significant expansions to their Leixlip site. It is very welcome news to those employed and living in Kildare North that Intel are about to begin to take the next steps to commence a possible expansion of their base in Leixlip. With two caps on, as a TD for the area and my party spokesperson on Science and Technology, I have regularly engaged with the microchip manufacturer. I am well aware of their commitment to our area and this will be another significant act of this assurance.

I believe the plans are part of a wider global manufacturing move by Intel. I am aware they see Ireland playing a significant role in this. Continue Reading →

New rail carriages not due to be delivered until end of year

The allocation of funding to provide new rail carriages will do little to alleviate the overcrowding challenges faced by passengers in the short and medium term in Sallins, Hazelhatch and further along the Kildare line following reports that Irish Rail is expected to get approval from the National Transport Authority (NTA) for the purchase of €100 million worth of new rail carriages.

I welcome this long overdue investment in Irish rail services, which is now serving a record number of passengers each year. It is vital to invest in Ireland’s public transport, if we are to reduce the congestion and environmental pollution that is plaguing our country. Continue Reading →

Eircode process must be sped up for new homes

I have called on the Government to instruct their providers to speed up the issuing of Eircodes to new homes. I am aware of some residents who have put effort into building a new home only to have to wait months before being active on the Eircode system. This delay has concerning consequences for the home owner.

The time it takes to be issued with a new Eircode means they are months without access to telephone lines or broadband services. More concerning is in the event an ambulance or other emergency services are needed to the home there is no identifying code to be provided. Continue Reading →