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 Baroness Benjamin Baroness Benjamin Liberal Democrat 7:00, 25 April 2023

My Lords, as might be expected, I will speak against Amendment 26 and will explain why.

The children’s charity Barnardo’s—here I declare an interest as vice-president—has said, as has been said several times before, that children are coming across pornographic content from as young as seven. Often they stumble across the content accidentally, unwittingly searching for terms such as “sex” or “porn”, without knowing what they mean. The impact that this is having on children is huge. It is harming their mental health and distorting their perception of healthy sexual relationships and consent. That will go with them into adulthood.

Age verification for pornography and age assurance to protect children from other harms are crucial to protect children from this content. In the offline world, children are rightly not allowed to buy pornographic DVDs in sex shops but online they can access this content at the click of a button. This is why I will be supporting the amendments from the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and am fully supportive of their age assurance and age verification schedule.