Ireland’s media regulator has reached a deal to enforce EU law on harmful and illegal online content.

Under the new European Digital Services Act, social media firms can be fined up to 6 percent of their global revenue for failure to remove illegal content from their sites.

The law is specifically designed to target illegal content, hate speech, privacy violations and potential election manipulation.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) has only just started to come into effect. Yet, the European Commission has already sent out demands to TikTok, Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram) and X (formally Twitter) to confirm “measures [each] has taken to comply with obligations related to the risk assessments and mitigation measures against the spreading of illegal content, in particular the spreading of terrorist and violent content and hate speech, as well as the alleged spread of disinformation”.

If any of those platforms is found wanting the new law should give the EU to act.

But will it work in practice?

Last week the European Commission urged member states to “coordinate their response to the spread and amplification of illegal content”, warning that there was a “risk of legal fragmentation and uncertainty”.

Some of the measures in the DSA only come into effect next year and the EU feels vulnerable.

Now the European Commission has signed a deal with Ireland’s regular, Coimisiún na Meán, to try and firm up its position.

Executive chair, Jeremy Godfrey, said Ireland has an important role to play in upholding the new law.

“Thirteen of the nineteen very large online platforms and search engines have their EU headquarters in Ireland. This means Coimisiún na Meán will have a special role, working in tandem with the European Commission as we use the Digital Service Act to ensure a safer online world.  We look forward to collaborating with the European Commission and other national regulators to address urgent issues and to develop our shared expertise as we prepare to play our part in enforcing the DSA.”

The European Commission says the “administrative arrangements” will enable Coimisiún na Meán to “support its [the EU’s] supervisory and enforcement powers”.

The law has taken on a new urgency since the Hamas attacks in Israel earlier this month. Within days, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, warned that social media was being used to “disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU”.

European Commission Vice-President for transparency, Věra Jourová, has now added her concerns.

“The horrific events spurred by Hamas’ terrorist attack have exposed the world to waves of violent content online. The EU’s Digital Services Act established rules and tools to tackle the rapid spread of such harmful and often illegal content on social media platforms and online services. I welcome the first national regulators in joining the Commission in an urgent response to unprecedented events.”

Making use of the new Digital Services Act, X, Meta and TikTok have been given a matter of days to react to questions sent out by the European Commission and to take action.