Digital Economy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 13th September 2016.

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Photo of Antoinette Sandbach Antoinette Sandbach Conservative, Eddisbury 5:25 pm, 13th September 2016

I hope that Connecting Cheshire will allow communities to band together and use vouchers in areas where superfast broadband has not yet been delivered. I urge the Secretary of State to allow that flexibility and to require BT to provide the money that would otherwise have been available for connection. I welcome the USO—it is a great step forward—but it must be set at 15 megabits and must also include minimum upload speeds.

Finally, on protecting children, we have heard much about age verification, but an NSPCC report indicated that eight children a day are being groomed online—not through access to child pornography, but through social media. Ofcom needs much better powers to deal with online child grooming and social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. When someone is below the age of consent—under-16—there should be parental access or some form of parental portal, but that is completely absent from the Bill. I appreciate that that is difficult when ISPs are located abroad, but with the problem of eight children a day being groomed online not being substantively addressed, other than through the valuable work of organisations such as Childline, we need to be able to close the door that allows abusers into children’s bedrooms.