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 Baroness Kidron Baroness Kidron Crossbench 9:15, 25 April 2023

At the centre of this is the question of whether we are trying to block the entire service or block at the level of porn content. It is the purpose of a set of amendments in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, myself and a number of other noble Lords to do exactly the latter. But I have to say to the noble Baroness that I am very much in sympathy with, first, putting porn behind an age gate; secondly, having a commencement clause; and, thirdly and very importantly—this has not quite come up in the conversation—saying that harms must be on the face of the Bill and that porn is not the only harm. I say, as a major supporter of the Bereaved Families for Online Safety, that “Porn is the only harm children face” would be a horrendous message to come from this House. But there is nothing in the noble Baroness’s amendments, apart from where the action happens, that I disagree with.

I also felt that the noble Baroness made an incredibly important point when she went into detail on Amendment 125A. I will have to read her speech in order to follow it, because it was so detailed, but the main point she made is salient and relates to an earlier conversation: the reason we have Part 5 is that the Government have insisted on this ridiculous thing about user-to-user and search, instead of doing it where harm is. The idea that you have Part 5, which is to stop the loophole of sites that do not have user-to-user, only to find that they can add user-to-user functionality and be another type of site, is quite ludicrous. I say to the Committee and the Minister, who I am sure does not want me to say it, “If you accept Amendment 2, you’d be out of that problem”—because, if a site was likely to be accessed by children and it had harm and we could see the harm, it would be in scope. That is the very common-sense approach. We are where we are, but let us be sensible about making sure the system cannot be gamed, because that would be ludicrous and would undermine everybody’s efforts—those of the Government and of all the campaigners here.

I just want to say one more thing because I see that the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, is back in his place. I want to put on the record that age assurance and identity are two very separate things. I hope that, when we come to debate the package of harms—unfortunately, we are not debating them all together; we are debating harms first, then AV—we get to the bottom of that issue because I am very much in the corner of the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, on this. Identity and age assurance must not be considered the same thing by the House, and definitely not by the legislation.