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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Google finally recognises importance of combatting referendum fake news

cropped_fake-news-computer-keyboardThe decision taken by Google to ban adverts relating to the referendum campaign on its Google Adwords platform is a positive development, but has come far too late in the campaign.

It’s becoming apparent that technology companies such as Google are becoming increasingly aware of the damaging impact that fake news, facilitated by their advertising platforms, is having on our democratic process.

In recent years fake news has had a corrosive impact on the Brexit referendum campaign in the UK, the presidential elections in the US and in recent weeks we have seen this murky tactic being employed by unknown forces in our own referendum campaign.  Continue Reading →

Kildare is left as the forgotten county facing the eye of Storm Emma

28577478_10155954780456047_333058848195608576_nThe people of Kildare are feeling isolated and abandoned by the inadequate level of response being provided to the county by the National Co-Ordination Centre following Storm Emma.

Almost every county in country has been left reeling from the extreme weather event which unfolded in recent days and understandably national resources have been spread nationwide. Continue Reading →

Naas Community College out for tender, School to be built

Naas Community College has finally been granted permission by the Department of Education to proceed to tender. This means the new school building can proceed at Millennium Park and is a great relief to parents, teachers, management and the entire school community.

The school started enrollment in 2014 and has reached maximum capacity at its current temporary home in Craddockstown. The new building will cater for 1,000 pupils and is a state of the art design with facilities for music, art, science and other subjects as well as dedicated ASD units. Continue Reading →

Additional pressure on Minister for Naas Community College

This past week I called on the Minister for Education to act now before schools in the Naas area face an accommodation crisis.  There is an urgent need for the Minister and his Department to issue the tender to commence building the new site which will be used by Naas Community College. This is the major delay and as a result of the Ministers lack of action, by 2020, 800 students in the Naas area will be affected. Continue Reading →