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House of Commons Commission written question – answered on 27th January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Paul Tyler Mr Paul Tyler Liberal Democrat, North Cornwall

To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the estimated cost is of the system introduced to block the delivery of e-mails to members containing profanities or other language considered objectionable; what criteria are being used for this editorial system and by whom; how many e-mails have been blocked; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

PCD is using existing software to block inappropriate e-mails and therefore the new system has minimal cost. In the first week the system blocked 908 inappropriate e-mails sent to parliamentary e-mail addresses. The system filters incoming e-mails from non-parliamentary addresses and will not affect internal communications, outgoing e-mails or e-mails received from remote workers attached to the parliamentary data and video network (PDVN) via Citrix. The sender of any e-mail that is blocked will be notified and invited to contact the intended recipient to arrange for the blocked e-mail to be unblocked. This will prevent any genuine e-mail from being lost.

PCD recognises that on occasions, constituents might use strong language: for example, if they are writing about a constituency issue on which they have firm views, or of which they have had a bad direct experience. Incoming e-mails that contain only a few mild expletives will be unaffected. Only those e-mails which contain a high proportion of the most offensive obscenities are blocked automatically.

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