Senator Lisa Chambers Calls for EU Leadership in Protecting Children Online

Published on: 28 May 2024

Senator Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil European Election candidate for the Midlands North West, has called for the European Union to take a leading role in protecting children online.

"With Ireland hosting the European headquarters of major tech companies like X (formerly Twitter) and Google, it is imperative that these corporations adhere to our social standards," Senator Chambers stated. "If a social media giant like X wants to benefit from our attractive business environment, it must respect our values and the well-being of our people."

Senator Chambers emphasised the need for a united European approach to address the challenges posed by social media. "Technology has the potential to improve our lives, but the rising rates of anxiety and depression among young people coincide with increased smartphone use. EU member states must act together to tackle this public health threat," she said.

Fianna Fail leader, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has been vocal about the impact of social media on children, describing it as "the public health threat of our time." On his podcast "In Conversation with," Martin expressed concerns that X is not interested in resolving issues related to online hate and safety. "It's clear to me that X isn't going to be interested in sorting any of this out. Their model is heading in one direction," he said.

During a meeting with Minister for Education Norma Foley in February, social media giants refused requests for greater age verification controls, and phone network companies did not support calls to prevent primary school children from owning smartphones. Notably, X did not attend the meeting.

Senator Chambers supports the establishment of Coimisiún na Meán, Ireland’s new regulator for broadcasters and online media, which will have the authority to issue fines of up to €20 million or 10% of turnover for non-compliance with guidelines. "We need robust regulatory frameworks to hold these companies accountable and ensure they prioritise the safety of young users," she said.

Senator Chambers reiterated the importance of EU leadership in this fight. "The European Union must lead the fight to protect our children online, ensuring consistent and effective regulations across all member states," she emphasised.