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Online Safety

July 2015

Baroness HoweAn independent peer has made a fifth attempt to change the law to improve online safety, bringing an Online Safety Bill to the House of Lords.

Tabled by Baroness Howe, the Bill, which had its first reading in the House at the end of May, aims to improve safety for households with children, put more onus on internet service providers (ISPs) and tighten up on websites that stream pornography.

Baroness Howe told the House that her Bill ‘made good the failures of the current system by applying to 100 per cent of the market, and thus to 100 per cent of households with children’. The Bill would require all ISPs to introduce robust age-verification before allowing filters to be lifted.

Under the proposed law, any website looking to stream hard-core pornographic material to UK customers from outside Britain can only do so with robust age-verification measures in place. The pre-election Conservative manifesto made a clear commitment to introducing a requirement for sites containing pornographic material to have such procedures in place.

Dr Dan Boucher, of CARE, said the charity ‘wholeheartedly welcomed Baroness Howe’s determination’ and said it would be backing her Bill ‘every step of the way’. He added: ‘The fact that our online protection provisions may be better than those of many other countries is no reason to hold back when we have the option of enhancing child safety online’.

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