Amendment 10

Part of Online Safety Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 25 April 2023.

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Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell Conservative 7:00, 25 April 2023

My Lords, I violently agree with my noble friend Lord Moylan that the grouping of this amendment is unfortunate. For that reason I am not going to plunge into the issue in huge detail. but there are a couple of things I would like to reassure my noble friend on, and I have a question for the Minister.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, said there is a package of amendments around age verification and that we will have a lot of time to dive into this, and I think that is probably the right format for doing it. However, I reassure my noble friend Lord Moylan that he is absolutely right. The idea is not in any way to shut off the town square from everyone simply because there might be something scary there.

Clause 11(3) refers to priority content, which the noble Lord will know is to do with child abuse and fraudulent and severely violent content. This is not just any old stuff; this is hardcore porn and the rest. As in the real world, that content should be behind an age-verification barrier. At the moment we have a situation on the internet where, because it has not been well-managed for a generation, this content has found itself everywhere: on Twitter and Reddit, and all sorts of places where really it should not be because there are children there. We envisage a degree of tidying up of social media and the internet to make sure that the dangerous content is put behind age verification. What we are not seeking to do, and what would not be a benign or positive action, is to put the entire internet behind some kind of age-verification boundary. From that point of view, I completely agree with my noble friend.