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 Baroness Kidron Baroness Kidron Crossbench 5:55 pm, 8th April 2019

My Lords, I too welcome the White Paper. I thank the Minister and the Secretary of State for being open to discussions during the process, and for indicating that there will be more discussions. I feel that more discussions are required because it is a little lacking in detail, and I share others’ concerns about the definition of harms. I was particularly upset to not see a little more work done on the everyday harms: the gaming, the gambling and the addictive loops that drive such unhealthy behaviours online. There are a lot of questions in the paper and I look forward to us all getting together to answer them —I hope quickly and soon. I really welcome the Minister’s words about the anxiety of the Government and both Houses to bring a Bill forward, because that is the litmus test of this White Paper: how quickly we get something on the books.

I feel encouraged by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, to mention that on Monday next week we have the launch of the final stage of the age-appropriate design code, which takes a safety-by-design approach. That is what I most welcome in the White Paper, in the Government’s attitude and in the work that we have in front of us: what we want to do is drive good behaviour. We want to drive corporate responsibility. We want to drive shareholders to take responsibility for those massive profits and to make sure that we do not allow the tech sector its exceptionality. It is a business like any other and it must do no harm. In relation to that I mention Will Perrin and Lorna Woods, who brought it forth and did so much work.

Finally, I am really grateful for what the Minister said about the international community. It is worth saying that these problems are in all parts of the world —we are not alone—and they wait and look at what we are doing. I congratulate the Government on acting first.