Senator Alice-Mary Higgins welcomes Google’s announcement on pausing of all referendum advertising from tomorrow until after 25th May

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Speaking today Senator Higgins said, “I very much welcome the announcement made by Google at midday that they will be pausing all advertising relating to the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment from tomorrow. 

The pause on referendum advertising applies to all their platforms including YouTube. I have been advocating for such a suspension since last November given the complete lack of regulation of online political advertising and the large volume of political advertisements and sponsored content being targeted at Irish voters, including ads from unaccountable, unidentified or international actors. Ultimately however, we in the Oireachtas must legislate in this area."

Senator Higgins first raised concerns around the impact of unregulated online political ads at the World Forum on Democracy last November and in recent months has been actively pressing Google and Facebook to “stop selling unregulated online political ads until proper regulations are in place.”
"While further action is required in this area, I welcome both Facebook and Google’s engagement with the issues and their recognition of responsibility to prevent their platform serving as a vehicle for exploitation.” 
The Senator noted “This decision is important given the lack of regulation of online political advertising and the threat this poses to the democratic process. We urgently need to update that law and bring online advertising in line with the regulation of print and broadcast media. I will continue to work with Deputy Lawless and others to deliver this.”


Separately Senator Higgins has also raised concerns about potential loopholes in the Data Protection Bill which could be exploited by companies similar to Cambridge Analytica. “It is important that we get this right and address any potential loopholes which could serve to undermine data protection or the democratic process.” 

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Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Frances Black co-sign letter from 1,000 parliamentarians calling on European leaders to take a stand against annexation and protect the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Senator Frances Black, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator David Norris and more than 100 other Irish Oireachtas members have joined over 1,000 other parliamentarians from across Europe, in co-signing a letter calling on European leaders to act decisively against plans for illegal annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel which have the potential to undermine peace negotiations and further destabilize the region.



The joint letter, initiated by Avraham Burg a former speaker of Israel's parliamentary assembly, the Knesset, underlines the importance of a "rules based global order" and calls for a lasting solution to the conflict that meets “legitimate aspirations and security needs and guarantees equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.” It emphasizes that “Europe has the diplomatic tools to promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts.”



Senator Higgins said: “Europe has a responsibility to follow through on its long-stated commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to take a firm stand against attempts to undermine core principles of justice, human rights and peace. Europe must make strong use of its diplomacy to oppose any proposed new settlement or annexation and Ireland, in particular, needs to show leadership”



Senator Black said: “With the threat of annexation, the international community must recognise one thing above all else: Condemnation is not enough! It has not stopped decades of settlement expansion. We need real accountability and action before it’s too late. “



“I introduced The Occupied Territories Bill into Seanad Éireann in 2018, it prohibits the importation of goods from illegally occupied lands, including the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The international community has an obligation to oppose annexation & the expansion of illegal settlements: we can start by refusing to support them economically.”



The letter, signed by 1080 parliamentarians, is addressed to EU Foreign Ministers and EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell. It calls on Europe to “take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.”