Email a Peer

 

Real progress has been made in the fight to protect children from harmful online material. 

The Government has worked with Internet Service Providers to come up with a voluntary industry agreement to protect children which being called ‘default-on’.

 

Boy with laptop and shields

Broadband users now have to make an unavoidable choice as to whether they want to activate family-friendly filters.  TalkTalk and Sky have gone one step further and their filters are switched on as a default unless users ask for them to be removed. 

This is clearly a great step in the right direction but we cannot afford to become complacent:

 

  • It is a voluntary arrangement and will have no statutory backing
  • Currently it only applies to large ISPs and not smaller ones. This leaves thousands of children unprotected
  • There are very real concerns about the weak age-verification procedures that the industry proposes. There is no attempt to age verifiy before allowing someone to lift the filters and opt-in to access adult content

 

The Online Safety Bill,  introduced by Baroness Howe, has been brought in with the aim of
reducing children and young people’s access to inappropriate, potentially harmful, material online.

 

The Bill had its First Reading on Thursday 28th May.  The next step will be a Second Reading debate on 17th July 2015.

 

If passed, the Bill would require:

  • Internet Service Providers and Mobile Phone Operators to ask service users to confirm whether or not to access adult content and to then only allow them to access it if they are 18 years or over.

  • Parents to be provided with information and education about online safety.

  • Rigorous age verification to ensure users seeking to access to sites hosting adult content are over 18.

  • Websites live streaming adult content from outside the EU into the UK to hold a UK Government licence that would only be granted if rigorous age checks are place, with banks and other payment processors barred from handling fees for services from UK citizens to unlicensed sites.

 

If you agree that these measures would offer children the best protection from harmful online content, please email a Peer and encourage them to attend The House on 17th July and speak in support of the Bill.

 

If you experience any problems using this form please Click Here! to be taken directly to a form letter which will open in a new page.

 

 You may like to mention the following in your email:

  • Say why you are concerned about children’s online safety.

  • Say that, although you are delighted about the recently announced measures to protect children, more can, and should, be done.

  • Say that Baroness Howe’s important and timely Online Safety Bill will have its Second Reading on 17th July.

  • Urge the Lord to attend the Second Reading debate and speak in support of the Bill.

 

This is all that’s required.  If you would like to go into more detail, you could say that you are supporting this Bill because, although the Government has secured the agreement of the ‘Big Four’ Internet Service Providers to provide their customers with ‘default-on’ web filters, this bill would:

  • Provide statutory backing: the current proposals are voluntary
  • Cover all bases: the government’s proposals presently only apply to large ISPs not smaller ones leaving approximately 10% of consumers unprotected.
  • Provide for a robust age verification that checks the ages of those electing to lift the filters before the filters can be lifted. The current arrangement provides no checks before filters are lifted
  • Require all UK sites live streaming 18 rated video on demand to put in place robust age verification before allowing someone to watch 18 rated material online
  • Require all sites based outside the EU live streaming R18 material into the UK to get a UK Government license, a condition of which will be the provision of robust age verification before providing access. Failure to get a license would make live-streaming such material into the UK a crime and financial transaction providers would then be required not to facilitate transactions between unlicensed sites and people in the UK.
  • Cover mobile operators as well as ISPs: the present system, which sees mobile phone providers automatically filter content, is voluntary.  This bill would give it a statutory backing.
  • Require key educational provisions which is the only way to deal with online behavioural challenges like cyber bullying and sexting

However, if you have no time to write your own you could use this example. 

Please feel free to amend it (you can add or remove) or just send it as it is.  Making your points in your own words will have greatest impact,
 and your email is less likely to get caught in an over-zealous spam filter, but

the bottom line is that it is much better to send an unamended letter than no letter!

 

Option 1

Dear

I am very concerned about children’s easy access to some extremely damaging material online. 

I have been encouraged by the progress made to address this problem and, although the new voluntary agreements are certainly a step in the right direction, it falls some way short of the recommendations of most of the UK’s children’s charities.

The new measures don’t have statutory backing and will only be really effective if they are accompanied by strict age-verification for users that takes place before the filters can be lifted.

Baroness Howe’s timely and important Online Safety Bill will have its Second Reading on 17th July.  I support her proposal for an opt-in filter to access adult material on the internet, backed by really robust age verification which is sadly lacking from industry’s own proposals.

I also strongly support the provisions in her Bill that require those live streaming 18 rated and R18 rated video on demand into the UK to acquire a UK Government license a condition of which will be the provision of robust age verification on such sites as the law already requires of online gambling sites.  If such sites lives stream into the UK they will do so illegally and the Bill requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and such sites.

This seems to me to offer the safest level of protection for children that is so urgently needed whilst not censoring the internet for adults who would be able to opt-in to view pornography.

When David Cameron has said of online child protection: ‘nothing is more important than this.’ I certainly believe this is true and so I find it bizarre that this can be left to voluntary agreements.  It may be the case that under the current glare of the media spotlight and pressure from the current Prime Minister the industry will get its house in order, but what will happen when he moves on to the next issue. What will happen in five, ten and twenty years time?

May I urge you to attend the Second Reading Debate and speak in support of the Bill.

 

Option 2

Dear

As a parent/grandparent I am very concerned about children’s easy access to some extremely damaging material online. 

I endeavour to protect my children/grandchildren from adult material but this is increasingly difficult to do, not just because of the plethora of devices which now access the internet but because my children/grandchildren often go online outside the home and their technical ability surpasses my own.

I have been encouraged by the progress made to address this problem and, although the new voluntary agreements are certainly a step in the right direction, it falls some way short of the recommendations of most of the UK’s children’s charities.

Not only does the Government’s filtering regime not have statutory backing, it also comes without any kind of credible age verification check before allowing the lifting of adult content filters.

Baroness Howe’s timely and important Online Safety Bill will have its Second Reading on 17th July.  I support her proposal for an opt-in filter to access adult material on the internet, backed by really robust age verification which is sadly lacking from industry’s own proposals.

I also strongly support the provisions in her Bill that require those live streaming 18 rated and R18 rated video on demand into the UK to acquire a UK Government license a condition of which will be the provision of robust age verification on such sites as the law already requires of online gambling sites.  If such sites lives stream into the UK they will do so illegally and the Bill requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and such sites.

This seems to me to offer the safest level of protection for children that is so urgently needed whilst not censoring the internet for adults who would be able to opt-in to view pornography.

When David Cameron has said of online child protection: ‘nothing is more important than this.’ I certainly believe this is true and so I find it bizarre that this can be left to voluntary agreements.  It may be the case that under the current glare of the media spotlight and pressure from the current Prime Minister the industry will get its house in order, but what will happen when he moves on to the next issue. What will happen in five, ten and twenty years time. 

May I urge you to attend the Second Reading Debate and speak in support of the Bill.

 

Option 3

Dear

I understand that the internet file-sharing sites which infringe copyright are to be blocked, at the behest of the High Court, by UK-based ISPs.

I find it extraordinary judges can block piracy websites but there is no statutory requirement for ISPs to adequately protect children from online pornography. 

Children’s rights are just as important as those of business and yet they are not deemed worthy of equal statutory protection.

I have been encouraged by the progress made to address this problem and, although the new voluntary agreements are certainly a step in the right direction, it falls some way short of the recommendations of most of the UK’s children’s charities.

Not only does the Government’s filtering regime not have statutory backing, it also comes without any kind of credible age verification check before allowing the lifting of adult content filters.

Baroness Howe’s timely and important Online Safety Bill will have its Second Reading on 17th July.  I support her proposal for an opt-in filter to access adult material on the internet, backed by really robust age verification which is sadly lacking from industry’s own proposals.

I also strongly support the provisions in her Bill that require those live streaming 18 rated and R18 rated video on demand into the UK to acquire a UK Government license a condition of which will be the provision of robust age verification on such sites as the law already requires of online gambling sites.  If such sites lives stream into the UK they will do so illegally and the Bill requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and such sites.

This seems to me to offer the safest level of protection for children that is so urgently needed whilst not censoring the internet for adults who would be able to opt-in to view pornography.

When David Cameron has said of online child protection: ‘nothing is more important than this.’ I certainly believe this is true and so I find it bizarre that this can be left to voluntary agreements.  It may be the case that under the current glare of the media spotlight and pressure from the current Prime Minister the industry will get its house in order, but what will happen when he moves on to the next issue. What will happen in five, ten and twenty years time. 

May I urge you to attend the Second Reading Debate and speak in support of the Bill.

 

Option 4

Dear

I am extremely concerned about the long term effects of children’s easy access to online pornography.   I was shocked to learn that one in three British children aged 10 have viewed internet pornography.

Extreme hard-core material is now easily accessible at the click of a mouse, and this is of huge concern because children’s access to pornography has been linked to poor body image, depression, risky sexual behaviour and relationship problems.  It is also linked to a reduction in inhibitions which can leave children more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.  Who knows the full extent of the harm this will cause children in the future; they are a generation of guinea pigs.

I have been encouraged by the progress made to address this problem and, although the new voluntary agreements are certainly a step in the right direction, it falls some way short of the recommendations of most of the UK’s children’s charities.

Not only does the Government’s filtering regime not have statutory backing, it also comes without any kind of credible age verification check before allowing the lifting of adult content filters.

Baroness Howe’s timely and important Online Safety Bill will have its Second Reading on 17th July.  I support her proposal for an opt-in filter to access adult material on the internet, backed by really robust age verification which is sadly lacking from industry’s own proposals.

I also strongly support the provisions in her Bill that require those live streaming 18 rated and R18 rated video on demand into the UK to acquire a UK Government license a condition of which will be the provision of robust age verification on such sites as the law already requires of online gambling sites.  If such sites lives stream into the UK they will do so illegally and the Bill requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and such sites.

This seems to me to offer the safest level of protection for children that is so urgently needed whilst not censoring the internet for adults who would be able to opt-in to view pornography.

When David Cameron has said of online child protection: ‘nothing is more important than this.’ I certainly believe this is true and so I find it bizarre that this can be left to voluntary agreements.  It may be the case that under the current glare of the media spotlight and pressure from the current Prime Minister the industry will get its house in order, but what will happen when he moves on to the next issue. What will happen in five, ten and twenty years time. 

May I urge you to attend the Second Reading Debate and speak in support of the Bill.