UK Advertising in a Digital Age (Communications Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:19 pm on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Wales) 1:19 pm, 25th April 2019

My Lords, I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, on doing a bit of personal advertising for his product—but not online, of course.

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, for presenting this report at last. A year is a long time and there have been multiple postponements when other activity, which seems to me more questionable, has dominated the procedures and business of this House. This debate comes at what I consider to be a difficult time: it has been a year, and much has happened to supersede the report. Having heard the business of the House for the coming two weeks only recently, it also comes just a few days before we discuss the online harms report, where much of this material will be rehearsed all over again. We must try to do honour to this report and thank those on the committee who produced it, noting of course that between then and now—it was 11 April last year when the report appeared—many things have happened. I will cherry pick from a bunch of bullet points that I have pulled together on things that have happened in the meantime.

First, the report looked forward to GDPR; that has now happened and we can evaluate it as we will. My noble friend Lord Gordon recommended a doorstopper book; I have something a little thinner than that, published last September. It is Martin Moore’s Democracy Hacked, which ought to be recommended reading for anybody taking part in these debates. I will willingly contribute to a fund to make it available for members of the committee and others who are interested. It is a systematic, scientific look at all the questions that have been raised in various parts of the House.

Then we got the Plum report, if I may call it that, which is included in the admirable briefing package that came from the Library. That report was commissioned by the DCMS and is called Online Advertising in the UK. It updates and extrapolates information, and presents it beyond the scope of the original report. The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, has just referred to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which I presume came too late for inclusion in the report—in detail, anyway—and then there was the online harms White Paper itself. The noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, talked about the age-verification material that is becoming available, although I hope she can reassure us regarding a report in a newspaper that said:

“Age-related curbs on porn circumvented in minutes”—