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Question

6. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions he has taken to protect against cyberbullying on social media platforms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42193/18]

Answer

Deputy Charles Flanagan: The Government recognises the importance of integrated action across Government to address online safety, including cyberbullying, and on 11 July 2018 the Taoiseach launched the National Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019. The action plan reflects a whole-of-Government approach and contains 25 actions under five main goals. The actions are assigned to six different Government Departments for implementation: my Department of Justice and Equality, as well as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
My Department will continue to have responsibility for legislative changes to criminal law, liaison with An Garda Síochána on enforcement issues and disbursement of EU funds, as well as oversight of hotline.ie, which is the vehicle for reporting suspected illegal content encountered online. Many of the actions assigned specifically to my Department under the plan are included under goal three, stronger protections, and include legislating for new criminal offences as recommended by the Law Reform Commission. In line with these responsibilities, the Office for Internet Safety has been incorporated into the crime directorate of my Department dealing with the criminal elements of online safety.
It is important to note that the criminal law targets behaviour that is illegal whether online or offline. Under the existing legislation relating to harassment and prohibition to hatred, bullying, including cyberbullying, may constitute an offence depending on the circumstances in which it has taken place. Where harmful behaviour online does not involve criminality, the appropriate response is through education and awareness raising, as well as effective action on the part of Internet companies. Such work is being taken forward by other Departments and agencies as part of the action plan.