Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat 3:45 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, for putting down this amendment. Indeed, this amendment has many good aspects to it, but I will adopt a phrase which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, used the other day, which is, “It doesn’t go nearly far enough”. It really highlights—and I declare an interest as the co-chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence—some of the issues that this Bill simply does not deal with. This does need huge consideration: all the ethics involved not only with artificial intelligence, but with the internet of things and the great many regulatory issues which spring from the new technologies. Algorithms are a part of it, of course they are, but we need further consideration.

I agree with those who have said that perhaps Ofcom is not necessarily the best regulator for this—I do not know—and it may be that we need to construct a purpose-built regulator for the world of artificial intelligence and the internet of things in ethical terms. I am not quite sure that Ofcom has got the necessary tools in terms of the ethics aspect of it.

I am very much in spirit with the noble Lord and I am delighted that he has raised it, but we are at the very beginning of a really important debate on a lot of these areas. The essence of all this is trust. We had a continuous debate through Part 5 about the government sharing of data. This is about the private sector and its use of a lot of our data and the way it sorts them and places them in the search engines. Trust is the overwhelming issue of our age, and we are not there yet. If we are going to reassure people who want to use these new technologies, we really do need to come up with a proper regulatory system. I do not think that this new clause quite provides it.