Amendment 12BA

Part of Online Safety Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 25 April 2023.

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Photo of Lord Allan of Hallam Lord Allan of Hallam Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Health) 9:15, 25 April 2023

The Twitter scenario, and other scenarios of mixed sites, are some of the most challenging that we have to deal with. But I would say, straightforwardly, “Look, 13% is a big chunk, but the primary purpose of Twitter is not the delivery of pornography”. I use Twitter on a daily basis and I have never seen pornography on it. I understand that it is there and that people can go for it, and that is an issue, but I think people out there would say that for most people, most of the time, the primary purpose of Twitter is not pornography.

What we want to do—in answer to the noble Lord’s second point—is create an incentive for people to be recategorised in the right direction. There is an assumption here that it is all going to be about gaming the system. I actually think that there is an opportunity here for genuine changes. There will be a conversation with Twitter. It will be interesting, given Twitter’s current management—apparently it is run by a dog, so there will be a conversation with the dog that runs Twitter. In that conversation, the regulator, Ofcom, on our behalf, will be saying, “You could change your terms of service and get rid of pornography”. Twitter will say yes or no. If it says no, Ofcom will say, “Well, here are all the things we expect you to do in order to wall off that part of the site”.

That is a really healthy and helpful conversation to have with Twitter. I expect it is listening now and already thinking about how it will respond. But it would expect that kind of treatment and conversation to be different; and I think the public would expect that conversation to be a different and better conversation than just saying “Twitter, you’re Pornhub. We’re just going to treat you like Pornhub”.

That is the distinction. As I say, we have an opportunity to get people to be more robust about either limiting or removing pornography, and I fear that the amendments we have in front of us would actually undermine rather than enhance that effort.