Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Benjamin Baroness Benjamin Liberal Democrat 7:15 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, this amendment is of crucial importance because, unlike the age verification provisions that we have considered in Part 3, which provide protection for children only from 18-rated pornographic material, the filtering provisions engaged by this amendment help to protect adult content in the round, including gambling, violence, self-harm and so on.

We should be in no doubt about the importance of adult content filters. However, I have a question for the Minister. This amendment effectively says to an ISP that if it wants to provide adult content filters it can do so legally in the UK. This is helpful for the 88% of the market that is covered by the agreement between the big four ISPs to provide unavoidable choice or default-on adult content options. So what is the Government's policy in relation to the remaining 12%? If it is really important that the big four provide unavoidable choice or default-on adult content options during the set-up, why is it not equally important that the smaller ISPs do the same?

I am not interested in whether or not it is strictly necessary under EU law. I am simply concerned that we should have the best protections in place for all children—those whose parents use one of the four largest ISPs and those whose parents do not.