Online Harms - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:55 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour 5:55 pm, 8th April 2019

My Lords, like most of your Lordships, I think, I welcome this White Paper, because it has taken us forward in a sensible and thought-through way. However, first, I am slightly confused in relation to the question posed by the noble Baroness about how seriously and where the Government are taking on board issues which are about the undermining of democracy. They are flagged up early in the White Paper, in paragraph 4, but then there is a vague section about leaving it to the regulator and having a code of conduct. That may be a valuable approach but should the Government not be taking action directly on such matters? For example, Sweden has produced a counterinfluence handbook designed specifically for these purposes. What are the Government’s intentions as far as that is concerned?

Secondly, the Minister said that time was of the essence so we are going through a three-month consultation process. Is the intention that there be legislation in the next parliamentary Session, whenever that may start? Thirdly and finally—I refer to my interests in the register on this—how are the Government planning to deal with adverts on the internet which are designed to be misleading? How will they deal with scammers who are on the internet?