Bishop of Oxford welcomes Government plans to tackle online harms

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Bishop of Oxford calls for household access to digital connection to be treated equally to other household utilities

On 5th October 2020 Baroness McDonagh asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on primary and secondary school students’ ability to learn for those students (1) who have digital connectivity, and (2) who do not have such connectivity, when learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of Oxford asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V]: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her Answer and for what the Government have already done. Before the pandemic, 23% of children in socioeconomic groups D and E lacked home broadband and access to laptops, et cetera. Does the Minister agree that we now need to measure data poverty and its effects more carefully? Will the Government commit to legislating for household digital access to be treated as a utility on an equal footing with the right to access for water and heat—a change supported by the general public? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls for household access to digital connection to be treated equally to other household utilities”

Bishop of Oxford asks about ethics in technology, and use of AI in coronavirus response

On 9th September 2020 the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a question of Government about the use of artificial intelligence in dealing with COVID-19:

Covid-19: Artificial Intelligence

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation AI Barometer, published on 18 June, what assessment they have made of the benefits and risks of the use of artificial intelligence in addressing the impact of COVID-19.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Barran) (Con):  My Lords, artificial intelligence played a very important role in responding to Covid, from identifying potential drug candidates to AI-driven education technology. AI also has the potential to drive productivity gains across sectors, supporting exciting new careers and businesses as an essential part of economic recovery. It is important that we keep society engaged as we do, so the centre’s Covid-19 repositories and its public attitudes surveys inform our understanding of public sentiment. The independent AI Council advises the Government on how best to realise the benefits and mitigate the risks.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V]: I thank the Minister for her Answer, and I draw attention to my registered interest as a board member of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. A year ago, the Prime Minister set out a vision, in his speech to the United Nations, for the UK to become a global leader in ethical and responsible technologies. We are discovering more deeply and painfully that ethics, good governance, human mediation and public trust are vital to realise the deeper benefits of these new technologies and prevent real harm. Will the noble Baroness affirm the importance ​of balancing innovation with a continued emphasis on ethics and good governance across the technology sector? In particular, will she confirm that the long-delayed government response to their own online harms consultation will be published this month, paving the way for much-needed legislation? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks about ethics in technology, and use of AI in coronavirus response”

Bishop of Oxford calls for post-Covid economy with fast, affordable internet access for all

On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I warmly welcome this debate. The country faces the triple challenge in the next decade of the threat of climate change, the deepest recession for generations and the health challenges of Covid, all of which will exacerbate existing inequalities. I support much of what other noble Lords have said and will focus my remarks on the vital theme of digital inclusion.

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Church Commissioners’ Written Answers: carbon emissions, religious freedom, strategic development funding, church planting, green investments, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, the Primates’ Meeting, new technologies, marriage and family life

On 13th February 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on carbon emissions, religious freedom, strategic development funding, church planting, green investments, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, the Primates’ Meeting, new technologies, marriage and family life.

Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ Written Answers: carbon emissions, religious freedom, strategic development funding, church planting, green investments, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, the Primates’ Meeting, new technologies, marriage and family life”

Bishop of Oxford on future generations, climate change and technology policies

On 20th June 2019 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the case for better protecting and representing the interests of future generations in policy-making.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Leeds in the same debate can be seen here.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about 5G mobile networks

StAlbans051218On the 13th June 2019 the bishop of St Albans the Rt Revd Alan Smith received a written answer from the government about 5G spectrum sharing.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Nominet 5G spectrum sharing, published in September 2018, which explores dynamic spectrum access possibilities for 5G. [HL16047]

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Bishop of Chelmsford calls for better regulation to protect online spaces

Chelmsford310119aOn 12th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a report from the Communications Committee, “That this House takes note of the Report from the Communications Committee Regulating in a digital world (2nd Report, HL Paper 299).” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who served on the Committee, spoke in the debate.

The Government have already committed themselves to making the United Kingdom the safest place in the world to be online. The ideas in this report explain that this does not necessarily require more regulation, but a different approach to regulation. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the big moral challenges of our day. We need to get it right, especially for our children, for there are no longer two worlds, the online and offline, but the one digital environment that we all inhabit and that needs a set of principles to govern not just its oversight but its future development.

Church Commissioner Questions: digital connectivity, ordination of women, Easter

On 28th March 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions from MPs on digital connectivity, the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women, and Easter church attendance.

Church Commissioners

The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Church Land and Buildings: Digital Connectivity

Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on implementing the joint accord between the Government and the Church of England on the use of Church land and buildings to support digital connectivity. [910102]

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about internet safety

On Monday 3rd December 2018 Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government “what financial and other resources will be available to the UK Council for Internet Safety.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, may I extend this question a little further? This is such an important issue and our generation will be judged on it as the internet and digital age takes over. Noble Lords will know those clever algorithms that are so good at selling us things—if we buy one thing they will try to sell us something else. Those could be turned towards the interests of internet safety by advancing something called safety by design. What consideration are the Government giving to much more forward-thinking legislation not just to support bodies such as the Council for Internet Safety, but to introduce measures to make our inhabiting of the digital world safer and more creative? Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about internet safety”