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Draft Communications Data Bill
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government's Draft Communications Data Bill and the potential expansion of powers for the security services to monitor a range of personal communications.
I appreciate the sensitivity of this issue and the concerns that people have raised about the potential impact of the Government's reforms on their privacy. It is vital that the Government strike an appropriate balance between personal freedoms and protecting national security and I agree that a number of serious questions remain about the Government's plans.
It is important that the police and security services can keep up to date with modern technology in order to fight crime and terrorism but is also vital that there are safeguards and checks in place to protect privacy and to ensure that there are no abuses of power where personal data is concerned.
I agree that the Government's draft Communications Data Bill is too widely drawn, that it provides too little protection for people's privacy and that are no proper safeguards over cost. I also believe that the draft Bill gives too much power to the Home Secretary and the Home Office.
I know that a number of organisations and campaign groups have raised similar concerns and a detailed report by the Joint Committee of both House of Parliament that has been considering the draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny has also recently concluded that the Government's proposals need to be significantly amended.
Given the importance of technology in fighting crime and the urgent need to get this legislation right, it is clear that the Government urgently need to rethink their draft Bill and ensure the police can do their job in fighting crime whilst the public have confidence their privacy is well protected.
I hope that the Government will now listen to the widespread concerns that have been raised about this draft Bill. I can assure you that I will continue to follow this important issue closely and will press the Government on behalf of constituents when opportunities arise.
DfE's parental controls consultation
Thank you for contacting me regarding online safety for children and DfE's Parental Controls Consultation. I apologise for the delay in responding.
I appreciate and share the serious concerns that many people hold about the proliferation of adult online content and the danger this poses to children. Indeed, 80% of people (and 93% of women) think that online child safety is a problem and nearly three-quarters of 9-16 year olds in the UK go online each day.
I do not want to see censorship of the internet, but I do think it should be easier for parents to protect their children online and to minimise the risk of children being exposed to adult material.
I am disappointed therefore that the Government have rejected plans to automatically block access to harmful content so that internet users would have to opt in to seeing it. This proposal - which is supported by organisations including the NSPCC - was one of the issues that the Government considered in a recent public consultation. Half of parents responding to this consultation said they wanted some content automatically blocked and I am concerned that instead of this the Government are proposing very little other than a voluntary agreement with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Indeed, the Government have failed to provide a deadline for all ISPs to make sure all customers - new and existing - are offered filtering choices and they have not clarified if they will introduce legislation if ISPs fail to achieve this voluntarily.
I know that a number of parents and organisations have expressed very serious concern about this issue and I agree it is vital that the Government take urgent and decisive action to make it easier for parents to protect their children online.
A Private Members Bill, The Online Safety Bill, has also been introduced to the House of Lords. This Bill proposes that ISPs should be required to exclude pornographic images unless an adult over the age of 18 opts in. I support the broad principle of this Bill, which has now completed Second Reading in the House of Lords, and I can assure you that I will follow its progress with interest.
Second Saturday of the month between 09:30 and 10:30
Fourth Friday of the month between 16:30 and 17:30
Phone (Constituency): 0114 272 2882
Email: paul dot blomfield dot mp (at) parliament dot uk
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