Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 7:00 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Digital and Culture announced on Report in the other place that we would bring forward this amendment on internet filters. As noble Lords are aware, EU regulation 2015/2120 on open internet access, or net neutrality, has created some uncertainty as to whether family-friendly filters currently offered by internet service providers and mobile network operators are compliant. The Government are clear that such filters are indeed compliant with EU regulation. However, for the avoidance of doubt, this amendment provides reassurance for UK ISPs and mobile network operators on this matter.

The amendment clarifies that internet service providers may restrict access to information, content, applications or services where that is in accordance with the terms of service agreed by the end user. The approach that the main providers of internet access services have taken towards filtering has been a huge success. The effect of this amendment is to support the current agreements and practice between users and their providers in respect of filtered services, whether at home, on mobile or on public wi-fi.

This amendment will underpin our commitment to keeping children safe online, by providing reassurance to providers that their filters are compliant with the EU regulation. Our objective is to support the current excellent voluntary system for family filters, and to ensure that it can continue in the most effective way to protect minors online. This amendment achieves that aim and I beg to move.