Regulating in a Digital World (Communications Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:41 pm on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Lord Gilbert of Panteg Lord Gilbert of Panteg Chair, Communications Committee 9:41 pm, 12th June 2019

I thank all noble Lords for their contributions to an excellent debate. I thank the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Stevenson, for engaging in detail with the recommendations in our report, as well as the Minister, who answered all our questions at this late hour. He now has the unenviable task of grappling with the detail and bringing forward positive proposals to deal with these complex issues. He and his colleagues have engaged enthusiastically with the committee; I really thank them for that.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Maxton, who rightly highlighted all that is good with the internet and the danger of overregulation. That is why I think that the digital authority, with its forward-looking function of identifying risks before they emerge, will enable us to reach for not only regulatory solutions but, for example, public education campaigns to deal with those issues.

As we conducted this inquiry, I was struck by the amount of evidence we received, not just from industry and regulators but from great civic society organisations, academics, journalists and individual citizens who took time to write to us and send submissions, which the committee read with huge interest. In this day, where public service is not recognised, I thank them. We heard from some frankly heroic people who are using technology and the internet to improve the lives of others and to do good.

Finally, we heard some disturbing evidence from some of our witnesses about child sexual exploitation and other ugly aspects of our society, from organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency. They work in some very dark areas of society and must endure much personal anguish, but they displayed great humanity when they came and spoke to us. They do amazing work. In them, we saw the best of our society.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 9.43 pm.