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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 2:30 pm on 20th October 2016.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Policy) 2:30 pm, 20th October 2016

That is exactly what I am saying. On that basis, with the Government’s position having been put clearly on the record, I hope that my hon. Friend will not press new clause 8 to a vote.

New clause 11 would empower the Secretary of State to introduce regulations in relation to backstop blocking injunctions. We have looked carefully at the option of blocking by ISPs and have talked to a lot of stakeholders about it. We take the problem seriously, and we think our measures will make a real difference. We are yet to be persuaded that blocking infringing sites would be proportionate, because it would not be consistent with how other harmful or illegal content is dealt with. There is also a question of practicality: porn companies would be able to circumvent blocking relatively quickly by changing URLs, and there is an additional risk that a significant number of sites that contain legal content would be blocked. We would need to be convinced that the benefits of ISP blocking would not be outweighed by the risks.