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Internet pornography: requirement to prevent access by persons under the age of 18

Part of Digital Economy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 20th October 2016.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:00 pm, 20th October 2016

First, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley for making such a clear and cogent argument for why the Bill needs further amendment. As I think she said—I am sure that she will correct me if I am wrong—we want to ensure that the Government stick to their manifesto commitment to protect children from all forms of online pornography. That will take consistency and a depth of modesty about the extent of our various levels of knowledge about how the internet works.

The hon. Member for Devizes made a good speech, and I am grateful to her for making the argument about on-demand films, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley also did, but the hon. Lady said—please correct me if I am wrong—that there were not many providers of free online pornography. I must respectfully disagree. Given the existence of peer-to-peer sharing and other forms of availability—my hon. Friend mentioned Tumblr and other social media websites—I am afraid that it is incredibly easy, as my nephews and nieces have confirmed, sadly, for a young person to access free online pornographic content in ways that most of us here might not even understand.