Freedom of Expression (Communications and Digital Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 4:35 pm ar 27 Hydref 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Strathcarron Lord Strathcarron Ceidwadwyr 4:35, 27 Hydref 2022

My Lords, as I am the last of the Back-Bench speakers, in the interests of catching up on time and because so many other noble Lords have expressed more eloquently than I could my own concerns about the unworkability of the “legal but harmful” duties and the need to protect children with proper age verification, I will make just one point that the report did not make.

As is well known, the Online Safety Bill has been five years in the making, during which time the tech world has moved on considerably. The report makes no mention of virtual private networks, yet with just two clicks on a VPN app, any user who wants to post to other adults freely outside of UK Government-censured social media can easily post to the rest of the world. That is, the rest of the world except China, whose outsourcing censorship methodology the Government are proposing to copy. In other words, those of us who value freedom of speech between adults over hurt feelings are reassured that technology has made whole sections of the Online Safety Bill redundant and irrelevant. However, we must improve age verification, as has already been mentioned, to protect children.