Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Health
350. To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 369 of 21 November 2017, the enforcement issues that have been identified with amendments to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as proposed on online advertising; if his views on same will be published; his plans to bring amendments on online advertising to the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51628/17]
The proposed amendments relating to online advertising sought to prohibit advertising of an alcohol product by means of an information society service unless all reasonable steps were taken to ensure that the advertising could not be viewed by children.
This amendment used the framework of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive, a Directive which is the remit of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. This Directive is a sector specific Directive for television, and services that are like television. To extend its scope to include any audiovisual content on any platform would cut across several Directives, Regulations and many different enforcement regimes.
Furthermore, such amendments would only apply to websites hosted in Ireland. Consequently, advertisers would simply move to websites which are not hosted in Ireland but which have large Irish audiences in order to avoid the necessity to comply with the legislative requirements. In terms of enforcement, this would put them outside of the Irish jurisdiction.
It was also not clear to me how effective age verification controls could be enforced. A reliance on self-disclosure is not a robust method of enforcement as children may simply claim to be over 18 and therefore access the advertising. An effective enforceable approach would require the use of an independent age authentication system which may have conflicted with Data Protection considerations.