Seanad debates

Friday, 18 December 2020

Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages


10:00 am

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

To be clear, no one is suggesting that this would be in the common good. Where any private information is shared, where that is intended to be harassing, is unacceptable, wrong and something that should be addressed. Speaking on this section of the Bill, it does not seek to make doxxing a criminal offence. That is not to say that it is not wrong or that it should not be a criminal offence but it simply is not being dealt with within this Bill. I do not suggest that doxxing or anything similar can be done in the common good but there may be instances in the common good where private information needs to be shared. I cannot get into every possible instance where that may be the case but we have to be very careful that there are not unintended consequences. The word "private" is not defined in the amendment and therefore, putting such a word into a Bill like this without a definition could have serious unintended consequences. To give an example, some of my personal details are shared by the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO, and that is both allowed and in the common good. Were we to start making any sharing of private information a criminal offence, it could have very serious unintended consequences. It would have to be very clearly defined and thought out where there might be unintended consequences and safeguards put in place. I appreciate where Senator Ruane is coming from. The issues she is talking about are very serious and it is something I have seen myself but it is not something that can be put into this section by way of simply inserting the word "private".


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