Posts Tagged ‘House of Lords’

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house of lords red logo The following four motions are expected to be debated together in the House of Lords on 11th December 2018:

Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 10 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 38th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Guidance laid before the House on 25 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 39th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara to move that this House regrets that the draft Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018 and the draft Guidance on Age-verification Arrangements do not bring into force section 19 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which would have given the regulator powers to impose a financial penalty on persons who have not complied with their instructions to require that they have in place an age verification system which is fit for purpose and effectively managed so as to ensure that commercial pornographic material online will not normally be accessible by persons under the age of 18.

Guidance on Ancillary Service Providers

Lord Ashton of Hyde to move that the draft Guidance laid before the House on 25 October be approved. Special attention drawn to the instrument by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 39th Report, 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee B)

The DCMS and BBFC age verification scheme has been widely panned as fundamentally the law provides no requirement to actually protect people’s identity data that can be coupled with their sexual preferences and sexuality. The scheme only offers voluntary suggestions that age verification services and websites should protect their user’s privacy. But one only has to look to Google, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to see how worthless mere advice is. GDPR is often quoted but that only requires that user consent is obtained. One will have to simply to the consent to the ‘improved user experience’ tick box to watch the porn, and thereafter the companies can do what the fuck they like with the data.

See criticism of the scheme:

Security expert provides a detailed break down of the privacy and security failures of the age verification scheme

Parliamentary scrutiny committee condemns BBFC Age Verification Guidelines

Parliamentary scrutiny committee condemns as ‘defective’ a DCMS Statutory Instrument excusing Twitter and Google images from age verification.

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house of lords red logo Pornographic Websites: Age Verification – Question

House of Lords on 5th November 2018 .

Baroness Benjamin Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty ‘s Government what will be the commencement date for their plans to ensure that age-verification to prevent children accessing pornographic websites is implemented by the British Board of Film Classification .

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, we are now in the final stages of the process, and we have laid the BBFC ‘s draft guidance and the Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations before Parliament for approval. We will ensure that there is a sufficient period following parliamentary approval for the public and the industry to prepare for age verification. Once parliamentary proceedings have concluded, we will set a date by which commercial pornography websites will need to be compliant, following an implementation window. We expect that this date will be early in the new year.

Baroness Benjamin

I thank the Minister for his Answer. I cannot wait for that date to happen, but does he share my disgust and horror that social media companies such as Twitter state that their minimum age for membership is 13 yet make no attempt to restrict some of the most gross forms of pornography being exchanged via their platforms? Unfortunately, the Digital Economy Act does not affect these companies because they are not predominantly commercial porn publishers. Does he agree that the BBFC needs to develop mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of the legislation for restricting children’s access to pornography via social media sites and put a stop to this unacceptable behaviour?

Lord Ashton of Hyde

My Lords, I agree that there are areas of concern on social media sites. As the noble Baroness rightly says, they are not covered by the Digital Economy Act . We had many hours of discussion about that in this House. However, she will be aware that we are producing an online harms White Paper in the winter in which some of these issues will be considered. If necessary, legislation will be brought forward to address these, and not only these but other harms too. I agree that the BBFC should find out about the effectiveness of the limited amount that age verification can do; it will commission research on that. Also, the Digital Economy Act itself made sure that the Secretary of State must review its effectiveness within 12 to 18 months.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Wales)

My Lords, once again I find this issue raising a dynamic that we became familiar with in the only too recent past. The Government are to be congratulated on getting the Act on to the statute book and, indeed, on taking measures to identify a regulator as well as to indicate that secondary legislation will be brought forward to implement a number of the provisions of the Act. My worry is that, under one section of the Digital Economy Act , financial penalties can be imposed on those who infringe this need; the Government seem to have decided not to bring that provision into force at this time. I believe I can anticipate the Minister ‘s answer but–in view of the little drama we had last week over fixed-odds betting machines–we would not want the Government, having won our applause in this way, to slip back into putting things off or modifying things away from the position that we had all agreed we wanted.

Lord Ashton of Hyde

My Lords, I completely understand where the noble Lord is coming from but what he said is not quite right. The Digital Economy Act included a power that the Government could bring enforcement with financial penalties through a regulator. However, they decided–and this House decided–not to use that for the time being. For the moment, the regulator will act in a different way. But later on, if necessary, the Secretary of State could exercise that power. On timing and FOBTs, we thought carefully–as noble Lords can imagine–before we said that we expect the date will be early in the new year,

Lord Addington Liberal Democrat

My Lords, does the Minister agree that good health and sex education might be a way to counter some of the damaging effects? Can the Government make sure that is in place as soon as possible, so that this strange fantasy world is made slightly more real?

Lord Ashton of Hyde

The noble Lord is of course right that age verification itself is not the only answer. It does not cover every possibility of getting on to a pornography site. However, it is the first attempt of its kind in the world, which is why not only we but many other countries are looking at it. I agree that sex education in schools is very important and I believe it is being brought into the national curriculum already.

The Earl of Erroll Crossbench

Why is there so much wriggle room in section 6 of the guidance from the DCMS to the AV regulator? The ISP blocking probably will not work, because everyone will just get out of it. If we bring this into disrepute then the good guys, who would like to comply, probably will not; they will not be able to do so economically. All that was covered in British Standard PAS 1296, which was developed over three years. It seems to have been totally ignored by the DCMS. You have spent an awful lot of time getting there, but you have not got there.

Lord Ashton of Hyde

One of the reasons this has taken so long is that it is complicated. We in the DCMS , and many others, not least in this House, have spent a long time discussing the best way of achieving this. I am not immediately familiar with exactly what section 6 says, but when the statutory instrument comes before this House–it is an affirmative one to be discussed–I will have the answer ready for the noble Earl.

Lord West of Spithead Labour

My Lords, does the Minister not agree that the possession of a biometric card by the population would make the implementation of things such as this very much easier?

Lord Ashton of Hyde

In some ways it would, but there are problems with people who either do not want to or cannot have biometric cards.

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House of Commons logoHouse of Commons

Delegated Legislation Committee

Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator

Thursday 1 February 2018

The Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Margot James)

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Proposal for Designation of Age-verification Regulator.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced a requirement for commercial providers of online pornography to have robust age-verification controls in place to prevent children and young people under the age of 18 from accessing pornographic material. Section 16 of the Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. The debate will focus on two issues. I am seeking Parliament’s approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator and approval for the BBFC to hold in this role specific functions under the Act.

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)

At this stage, I would normally preface my remarks with a lacerating attack on how the Government are acquiescing in our place in the world as a cyber also-ran, and I would attack them for their rather desultory position and attitude to delivering a world-class digital trust regime. However, I am very fortunate that this morning the Secretary of State has made the arguments for me. This morning, before the Minister arrived, the Secretary of State launched his new app, Matt Hancock MP. It does not require email verification, so people are already posting hardcore pornography on it. When the Minister winds up, she might just tell us whether the age-verification regulator that she has proposed, and that we will approve this morning, will oversee the app of the Secretary of State as well.

Question put and agreed to.

House of Lords

See article from hansard.parliament.uk

house of lords red logoParticulars of Proposed Designation of Age-Verification Regulator

01 February 2018

Motion to Approve moved by Lord Ashton of Hyde

Section 16 of the Digital Economy Act states that the Secretary of State may designate by notice the age-verification regulator, and may specify which functions under the Act the age-verification regulator should hold. I am therefore seeking this House’s approval to designate the British Board of Film Classification as the age-verification regulator. We believe that the BBFC is best placed to carry out this important role, because it has unparalleled expertise in this area.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)

I still argue, and I will continue to argue, that it is not appropriate for the Government to give statutory powers to a body that is essentially a private company. The BBFC is, as I have said before204I do not want to go into any detail — a company limited by guarantee. It is therefore a profit-seeking organisation. It is not a charity or body that is there for the public good. It was set up purely as a protectionist measure to try to make sure that people responsible for producing films that were covered by a licensing regime in local authorities that was aggressive towards certain types of films204it was variable and therefore not good for business204could be protected by a system that was largely undertaken voluntarily. It was run by the motion picture production industry for itself.

 L ord Ashton of Hyde

I will just say that the BBFC is set up as an independent non-governmental body with a corporate structure, but it is a not-for-profit corporate structure. We have agreed funding arrangements for the BBFC for the purposes of the age-verification regulator. The funding is ring-fenced for this function. We have agreed a set-up cost of just under £1 million and a running cost of £800,000 for the first year. No other sources of funding will be required to carry out this work, so there is absolutely no question of influence from industry organisations, as there is for its existing work—it will be ring-fenced.

Motion agreed.

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house of lords red logoTheresa May today vowed to overturn a disgraceful bid by peers to muzzle the press.The House of Lords yesterday voted to force the vast majority of papers – including the struggling local press – to pay all legal costs in data protection cases even if they win.

Peers voted by 211 votes to 200, a majority of only 11, to introduce the new legal fees costs on the media.

Critics have pointed out that it will hamper the media’s ability to investigate wrongdoing and corruption as criminals could drag the press through expensive courts without having to pay a penny themselves.

The PM said:

I think that the impact of this vote would undermine high-quality journalism and a free press.

I think it would particularly have a negative impact on local newspapers, which are an important underpinning of our democracy.

I believe passionately in a free press. We want to have a free press that is able to hold politicians and others to account and we will certainly be looking to overturn this vote in the House of Commons.

The Lords also voted by 238 votes to 209 for a new probe effectively mirroring the second part of the Leveson inquiry. This also attempts to punish the press by denying them justice by making them pay regardless of the merits of the case.

New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock also weighed in against the lords saying that the proposed changes would be a hammer blow to the local press and made clear he would seek to overturn the changes in the elected House of Commons

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house of lords red logoThe Daily Mail explains that criminals and corrupt politicians and businessmen could escape exposure under a new attempt to restrict Press freedom.A fresh bid to restrict the rights of journalists and the media to inquire into crime and corruption involves attempts to change a data law that is going through Parliament.

One Labour amendment to the Data Protection Bill would mean that the Information Commissioner would have powers to decide whether codes of conduct under which journalists work should be recognised by the new law.

A second amendment would rewrite the new law so that the unjust censorship powers suggested in the second half of the Leveson inquiry into Press standards would go ahead.

Currently the proposed legislation provides an exemption for journalists who access and store personal information without consent when exposing wrongdoing. This means that individuals under investigation by journalists would not be able to interfere with their inquiries or block publication of stories that would bring to light wrongdoing.

However a series of attempts have been made to introduce changes to the Bill which would remove safeguards for freedom of expression, bind journalists and make their inquiries either difficult or impossible.

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house of lords red logo Elspeth Howe’s Online Safety Bill has passed its committee stage in the House of Lords.The Bill to impose the ISP filtering on all UK ISPS, to require robust age verification for adult websites and to extended this to overseas sites, was widely praised by peers. However the government noted that it would be introducing its own bill to cover these areas next year and would not therefore be supporting Howe’s bill.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Joanna Shields) summarised the government’s position:

I thank all noble Lords for their contributions, and I state one more time that there is no ambiguity about the Government’s commitment to launch the consultation shortly after the new year, and to provide for a robust age verification system to ensure that no one under the age of 18 can access pornographic material in the UK. It is a process that has been going on. We have been seeking advice from experts since the manifesto commitment was announced and we are consulting early in the new year. We are 100% committed to that.

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, for his contributions and for his extraordinary work in leading the development of solutions that will in fact achieve our goal. Many elements of the Bill are incredibly well thought-out and well intentioned, and they will be taken on board in the resulting legislative approach that we take in the new year. This is about timing. This clause requires that the Secretary of State must identify a licensing authority for non UK-based pornographic services, and the noble Baroness’s amendment to the clause specifies that the Secretary of State needs a second independent body to conduct appeals. It is a very good suggestion, but it is a bit premature until we finish the consultation.

Regarding the Ofcom/ATVOD role, there is some confusion about the function of ATVOD continuing, but following an Ofcom review, it was publicly announced in October that from January next year Ofcom will take sole responsibility for regulating video on-demand programme services. As a result, it will not continue its co-regulatory arrangement with ATVOD. Let us be clear on this: it is continuing with the function and the obligation of ATVOD, but that is being brought into the Ofcom portfolio.

Earlier in the debate, The Earl of Erroll made an interesting contribution by that privacy implications mean that the age verification approach used by the gambling industry is not applicable to porn sites.

Lord Framlingham:

I am sorry to keep picking the noble Earl’s brain, but for the purposes of today’s debate, is there any intrinsic difference between the gambling industry and the pornography industry?

The Earl of Erroll:

Yes, there is, interestingly enough. It is to do with the law. Because of anti-money laundering, the gambling industry has to do client checks; it has to behave almost as if it were a bank. As a result, companies have to be able to prove the identity of the person. For various social reasons, it is felt that it is unfair for people to have to declare their identity publicly if they are looking at adult content which it is perfectly legal to watch, or buying alcohol and so on. For instance, if a Muslim buys alcohol and the mosque gets to know about it because their identity had to be declared and retained publicly, they might suffer greatly. Equally, if a Cabinet Minister happens to view some pornography or adult material, that is perfectly legal but, if certain newspapers were to find out, the Minister’s career would be destroyed overnight. This is the challenge and the difference. We have to remember that this stuff is legal for the over-18s, but there are social pressures and public opinion, which we may or may not agree with, so I think that we have to protect people’s privacy.

Lord Framlingham:

I am sorry to ask again. The example that has been given mentions embarrassment, but it is not technically illegal.

The Earl of Erroll:

The example I have given is one that is career-destroying. The knock-on effect of that could involve all sorts of family repercussions to do with children in school because Daddy or Mummy has just had their career destroyed. We sometimes forget the effect on a family as the result of something that, while it may be regarded by some as socially unacceptable, is perfectly legal. We need to think about that at the parliamentary level.

The bill now moves on to the House of Lords report stage which has not yet been scheduled.

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elspeth howe The Consumer Rights Bill is progressing through Parliament is currently at the report stage in the house of Lords. It will next be debated on 24th November.Elspeth Howe has again proposed her clause requiring age verification for adult content. It has been kicked out several times in the past as the government recognises the need to work with the telecoms industry rather than impose onerous new laws (of course the government hasn’t shown the same pragmatic approach to the adult internet industry).

The new clause was proposed by Baroness Elspeth Howe, Baroness King, Lord Cormack and Baroness Floella Benjamin. It is titled amendment 50D.

“Duty to provide an internet service that protects children from digital content

(1)     Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(2)     Where mobile telephone operators provide a telephone service to subscribers which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(3)     The conditions are–

(a)   the subscriber “opts-in” to subscribe to a service that includes adult content;

(b)   the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and

(c)   the provider of the service has an age verification policy which meets the standards set out by OFCOM in subsection (4) and which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over before a user is able to access adult content.

(4)     It shall be the duty of OFCOM, to set, and from time to time to review and revise, standards for the–

(a)   filtering of adult content in line with the standards set out in section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 (OFCOM’s standards code);

(b)   age verification policies to be used under subsection (3) before a user is able to access adult content; and

(c)   filtering of content by age or subject category by providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators.

(5)     The standards set out by OFCOM under subsection (4) must be contained in one or more codes.

(6)     Before setting standards under subsection (5), OFCOM must publish, in such a manner as they think fit, a draft of the proposed code containing those standards.

(7)     After publishing the draft code and before setting the standards, OFCOM must consult relevant persons and organisations.

(8)     It shall be the duty of OFCOM to establish procedures for the handling and resolution of complaints in a timely manner about the observance of standards set under subsection (4), including complaints about incorrect filtering of content.

(9)     OFCOM may designate any body corporate to carry out its duties under this section in whole or in part.

(10)     OFCOM may not designate a body under subsection (9) unless, as respects that designation, they are satisfied that the body–

(a)   is a fit and proper body to be designated;

(b)   has consented to being designated;

(c)   has access to financial resources that are adequate to ensure the effective performance of its functions under this section; and

(d)   is sufficiently independent of providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators.

(11)     In this section, internet service providers and mobile telephone operators shall at all times be held harmless of any claims or proceedings, whether civil or criminal, providing that at the relevant time, the internet access provider or the mobile telephone operator–

(a)   was following the standards and code set out by OFCOM in subsection (4); and

(b)   acting in good faith.

(12)     For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in subsections (1) and (2) prevents providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators from providing additional levels of filtering content.

(13)     In this section–

“adult content” means an internet access service that contains harmful and offensive materials from which persons under the age of eighteen are protected;

“harmful and offensive materials” has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Communications Act 2003 (general duties of OFCOM);

“material from which persons under the age of eighteen are protected” means material specified in the OFCOM standards under section 319(2)(a) of the Communications Act 2003 (OFCOM’s standards code);

“opts-in” means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes adult content.”