Amendment 10

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology) 7:00, 25 April 2023

My Lords, this has been a very strange debate. It has been the tail end of the last session and a trailer for a much bigger debate coming down the track. It was very odd.

We do not want to see everything behind an age-gating barrier, so I agree with my noble friend. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, reminded us, it is all about the risk profile, and that then leads to the kind of risk assessment that a platform is going to be required to carry out. There is a logic to the way that the Bill is going to operate.

When you look at Clause 11(3), you see that it is not disproportionate. It deals with “primary priority content”. This is not specified in the Bill but it is self-harm and pornography—major content that needs age-gating. Of course we need to have the principles for age assurance inserted into the Bill as well, and of course it will be subject to debate as we go forward.

There is technology to carry out age verification which is far more sophisticated than it ever was, so I very much look forward to that debate. We started that process in Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act. I was described as an internet villain for believing in age verification. I have not changed my view, but the debate will be very interesting. As regards the tail-end of the previous debate, of course we are sympathetic on these Benches to the Wikipedia case. As we said on the last group, I very much hope that we will find a way, whether it is in Schedule 1 or in another way, of making sure that Wikipedia is not affected overly by this—maybe the risk profile that is drawn up by Ofcom will make sure that Wikipedia is not unduly impacted.