Bishop of Chelmsford – why the Internet needs regulation

On 17th January 2019 Baroness Kidron led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the relationship between the use of digital technology and the health and well-being of children and young people.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, an unregulated digital environment is causing moral decay. There is no time to reiterate the various harms that are being caused, but they are deep-seated, corrosive and pervasive. Just last week I was at a school in Essex talking to 7 to 11 year-olds about their use of a game called TikTok. All of them were using it. The lower age limit for using it is 13. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, pointed out, the digital world assumes that all users are equal and all users are adults, whereas in fact one-third of users worldwide are children. Therefore, their health, well-being and development require us to ensure that the internet, and the many ways that children access it, are as safe as they can be. This has usually meant creating special safe places for children or safety options that can be activated. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – why the Internet needs regulation”

Bishop of St Albans – ban online gambling adverts and monitor games to reduce harm to young people

On 17th January 2019 Baroness Kidron led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the relationship between the use of digital technology and the health and well-being of children and young people.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, for raising this subject and for her outstanding introduction to this debate.

Fifty-five thousand children in this country are classified as problem gamblers. The Gambling Commission’s report, Young People and Gambling, published in November, shows that gambling participation has risen, with 14% of 11 to 16 year-olds having spent their own money on gambling. That is a greater proportion of young people than have drunk alcohol, smoked cigarettes or taken illegal drugs. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – ban online gambling adverts and monitor games to reduce harm to young people”

Bishop of Chester questions strength of protections of new online pornography regulations

On 11th December 2018 the House of Lords considered a motion to approve the Online Pornography (Commercial Basis) Regulations 2018. During the debate the Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke:

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I am pleased to speak in general support of the regulations and guidance. They relate to matters which I and others raised during the passage of the Digital Economy Bill in 2017 and, more broadly, to issues debated by the House a couple of years ago in a balloted debate that I introduced. The subject of that debate was the impact of pornography on our society. While there was some disagreement over the impact of pornography on adults, there was virtual unanimity that children needed to be protected from pornography—as far as this could reasonably be achieved. I seem somehow, by default, to have become the episcopal expert on pornography. I am trying to live that down. It is just the way it has fallen—although I often find myself talking from these Benches about things I have not had much experience of. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester questions strength of protections of new online pornography regulations”

Bishop of St Albans asks about full-fibre broadband coverage

On 24th July 2018 Lord Fox asked Her Majesty’s Government “how they intend to deliver full-fibre broadband coverage, and what will be the cost to the taxpayer for these improvements.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful for the ambitious targets that Her Majesty’s Government are setting. I am concerned, however, because the commitment to get universal coverage for full fibre does not seem to fit with the statement on page 8 of the review:

“In areas where it may not be cost effective to get fibre all the way to the home, even with additional funding, other technologies … can also deliver gigabit connectivity. Bidders will be encouraged to explore innovative solutions”.

How does that fit with Her Majesty’s Government’s commitment? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about full-fibre broadband coverage”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government what it will do to improve UK’s broadband speed

On 19th July the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government abour broadband speed. The exchanges and follow-up questions from other Members can be seen below:

Broadband Speed
Question

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Kingdom’s place in the annual ranking of global broadband speed and of the impact of low broadband speeds on the United Kingdom’s ability to compete globally after Brexit. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government what it will do to improve UK’s broadband speed”

Caroline Spelman answers written question about WiSpire

spelman-190117bOn 19th March 2018, Dame Caroline Spelman, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered a written question from Sir Mark Hendrick, the Labour/Co-op Member for Preston, about churches involved in the WiSpire scheme:

Sir Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2018 to Question 131116 on Churches: Blackburn, what assessment has been made of the potential merits of drafting contracts for church spires and towers to host broadband and mobile facilities which take into account circumstances in which Church authorities subsequently wish to demolish such buildings to make alternative use of Church land.

Continue reading “Caroline Spelman answers written question about WiSpire”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what they are doing to combat hate speech online

On 15th March 2018 the Bishop of Gloucester asked a question she had tabled to Government on online hate speech. The exchanges are below, including the follow-up questions asked by other Members.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to combat hate speech online.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, this Government abhor all forms of hate speech. It is clear that what is illegal offline is also illegal online. That is why we are taking a cross-government approach through the hate crime action plan, which will be refreshed this year. We are funding an online hate crime hub, building digital resilience and have successfully worked with industry and partners internationally to agree the removal of illegal content within 24 hours.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, we know that websites and apps have brought many benefits, but at a cost. From my own visits to schools, I am particularly concerned about the hate speech that young people are exposed to online, including through anonymous apps like Sarahah. What are the Government doing to ensure that the age verification checks on apps are effective? How are the Government working with smaller developers to ensure that their platforms are not used to propagate threats and hate speech? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what they are doing to combat hate speech online”