Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017 and the Influence of Social Media: Discussion (Resumed)
We will resume our scrutiny of the Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017, which is a Private Members' Bill. I welcome Ms Karen White, who is the Twitter's director of public policy in Europe. I also welcome Ms Sherry Perreault, who is the Standards in Public Office Commission's head of ethics and lobbying regulation and also serves as the secretary to the commission. Both of them are very welcome.
Before we begin, I have to draw the attention of witnesses to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given. They are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I also wish to advise the witnesses that any submission or opening statement made to the committee will be published on the committee's website after this meeting. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I remind those present to put their phones on flight mode - we are not flying anywhere, but anyway - because they interfere with the sound system.
The opening statements of Ms White and Ms Perreault should not last more than five minutes in each case, although I will not be strict. I will indicate to them after four minutes that they have one minute left. Their presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.
Each member may ask a question not exceeding three minutes. I also ask members to wait until all presentations have concluded before putting their questions. I welcome Deputy Lawless and congratulate him on preparing the Bill and being on the official side of the room. Unfortunately the turnout at today's meeting has faced difficulties. The Chairman has gone to London for the hearings there and many members will be coming and going. That is the way it works with committees because there is so much activity, particularly today with the report on communications being published. Many people are engaged on that, including my colleague, Deputy Dooley. I invite Deputy Lawless to give a brief overview of the Bill.