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Online Pornography: Age Verification - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:55 am on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 11:55 am, 17th October 2019

My Lords, the House will be aware of my long-standing view that it is wrong in principle for the Government to require private companies, such as the BBFC, to carry out statutory functions. We had considerable reservations about the original approach taken by the Government in the Digital Economy Act, with its reliance on age verification as a surrogate for requiring companies to do much more to protect children and other vulnerable people online, but we support the duty of care approach set out in the recent White Paper.

However, yesterday’s announcement will undoubtedly mean that children will be exposed to unsuitable material for two or three years more than originally planned. This is shocking. A few months ago, we were told that the delays were due to an “administrative oversight”. Is that still the reason that the Government use? When will the report on that incident be made available?