Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 7:00 pm, 11th December 2018

We are confident it will work, but we will have to see when it comes to the review. It is an arbitrary figure that we came to by consensus. I will leave it at that.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about education for children about sex and relationships. We are extending that by making relationships education compulsory in all primary schools. Relationships and sex education is compulsory in all secondary schools and health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. We understand that it is important. Together with the protection of children we are introducing today, we will have to keep an eye on it. I notice that the DCMS committee in the other place is launching an inquiry into, among other things, the effects of social media on people’s attitudes, including those of children. In a sense, we are all learning as we go, because the technology is developing. It is something we are aware of and keeping an eye on, and we take the point.

As for the big issue of the evening, and why social media sites are not in the scope, that was a decision taken after a debate during the passage of the Digital Economy Bill. We did not want to prevent the benefits of social media sites. But I confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that we will consider that in the online harms White Paper. Noble Lords will be welcome to add their thoughts on that very soon—either just before or after Christmas.

As noble Lords have mentioned, there is a memorandum of understanding that clarifies the role of the ICO and what powers it will have instead of the BBFC. The BBFC will administer the voluntary certification scheme that will hold AV services to the highest standards of privacy protection and cybersecurity. We expect the vast majority of AV services to seek accreditation. Furthermore, the BBFC will inform the ICO of any non-certified age-verification solutions it finds, and the ICO will be able to take a look at them. Even if they do not want to apply for voluntary certification, the ICO will make sure they are subject to the full rigours of the GDPR.

I have covered most of the main points; I will look at Hansard and write to noble Lords if I have not covered any. I think it is evident from all the contributions from across the House that this is a complex and novel policy that requires sensitive handling. Having listened to all contributions and heard limited support for the regulations as they stand, albeit with some suggestions for improvement, I remain of the view that these regulations set out clearly what will fall within their scope. I think the guidance from the BBFC sets out clearly how it will assess the requirements of Section 14 and clarifies the BBFC’s approach to payment and ancillary service providers.

We are on the verge of doing something important that has the potential to make a real difference to the experience children have online and to make the internet a safer place for them, so I finish where I began. We are here to protect children, and for that reason I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, to withdraw his Motion, or indeed not to move it, and respectfully ask the House to approve the two guidances and the statutory instrument.

Motion agreed.