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Children Not Sufficiently Protected From Porn In Online Safety Bill, Lords warns

The forthcoming online safety bill does not adequately protect children from pornography, House of Lords colleagues have said.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the Lords Communications and Digital Committee said it was concerned about the bill because it does not cover porn sites that do not allow users to share content.

The bill, finally released earlier this month after years of delays, targets sites that don’t properly regulate user-submitted content.

But porn sites that publish their own material are not covered by this assignment. The committee also outlined other concerns that came to light in its research on freedom of expression online.

The investigation “points to some legislative solutions other than those currently selected by the government,” the committee said, including the definition of harm, “content of democratic importance” and journalistic content.

Lord Gilbert of Panteg, chairman of the committee, said: “Keeping children safe online is essential.

Ensuring that these websites take appropriate measures to prevent children from accessing them, and ensuring that they do not host illegal content, is critical.

“We share the government’s goal of making the internet a safer place for our citizens. Britain has a chance to lead the world in human rights-based internet regulation.

We need to get this right.” Colleagues have told the government too called to clarify whether the bill’s definition of psychological impact has a clinical basis and suggested that the definition of indirect impact of content was “vague and too broad”.

“These are complex issues that we know you and your department have thought about extensively,” said the letter to Downden.“It would help us a lot to better understand the rationale behind the definitions in the bill.

” The committee also called for more research into the scope of the rules surrounding the protection of content of democratic importance, which specify that content intended to contribute to political debate, to promote or oppose government policies are protected.

Fake news has become an increasing problem in recent elections around the world and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In November, it was reported that GCHQ launched a cyber investigation into misinformation surrounding vaccines distributed by “hostile” states.