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

Google
Google

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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Senator Alice-Mary Higgins welcomes decision not to permit hedge-cutting in August and calls on Minister Madigan to review the Heritage Act and to protect biodiversity

The decision by the Minister not to extend hedge-cutting into August this year is an important recognition of the growing crisis in biodiversity in Ireland and worldwide.
Senator Higgins said in response to today’s announcement, “I am glad to see Minister Madigan has apparently given new consideration to the serious concerns expressed by myself and others during the extensive Seanad Debate in the Heritage Bill and has removed the threat of August cutting from the habitats which our insects, birds, bees rely on. The essential next step must be to review this flawed legislation and ensure that biodiversity is protected not just this year but every year.”