Digital Exclusion

Science, Innovation and Technology – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

What steps her Department is taking to help tackle digital exclusion.

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Government have been absolutely clear that no one should be left behind in the digital age. Digital inclusion is a cross-cutting issue spanning many different areas. I chair the cross-Whitehall ministerial group for digital inclusion to drive progress and accountability across Government, and we have increased the frequency of our meetings—that is how important we see this issue as being. I regularly meet relevant organisations, including by attending the Centre for Social Justice’s digital exclusion roundtable and the upcoming meeting of the digital inclusion APPG.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

Digital inclusion works only when people trust website links. My constituent let me know that by clicking on a dodgy link, he was tricked into making an investment of over £108,000, which turned out to be a scam. The Government’s latest digital inclusion strategy was written 10 years ago. Does the Minister accept that there are good reasons why many older people want to be able to look somebody in the eye when making investments or doing their banking?

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Choice is important, which is why our digital inclusion approach cuts across many Departments. I am sorry to hear the case of the hon. Gentleman’s constituent. I am happy for him to write to me, and I can talk to him about our national fraud strategy as well.

Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Ceidwadwyr, Penistone and Stocksbridge

The impact of the digital world on our lives is growing every day, but we do not yet know enough about the consequences for society, democracy or, indeed, our children, because the data held by tech companies is not visible to the Government, regulators, researchers or the public. Will my hon. Friend update the House on measures to open up access to this data, and will he commit Government support for the amendments to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill tabled in the other place by Lord Bethell, which would introduce a “data for researchers” scheme?

Photo of Saqib Bhatti Saqib Bhatti Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I thank my hon. Friend for all her campaigning on this and other online safety-related issues; we have had a number of engagements. The Government said very clearly that we would explore the issue of data access for researchers into online safety during the passage of the Online Safety Act 2023. We are aware of the amendments tabled to the DPDI Bill, and I encourage my hon. Friend to watch this space, as we will be reporting in due course.