Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 13 October 2016


Parliament returns this week and I start by chairing the Digital Economy Bill in committee. This will dominate my life for most of October and early November as MPs go through the lengthy bill line by line. Welcome back.

This bill seeks to introduce new laws to regulate the rapidly growing digital economy –which now so dominates our business and private lives. Even my own mother sends me e-mails and "highly amusing" clips from the internet. Thanks mum.

The bill will allow Ofcom, the communications sector's regulator, to financially penalise communications providers for failing to comply with licence commitments. It will also give them legal oversight of the BBC and not before time.

It will – and this is vital for our area – create a legal right to minimum Internet download speeds for consumers. Who would have thought that just a few years ago – access to internet speed a legal right! Accessing fast broadband speeds is bringing much prosperity to our far-flung region – and we must continue until every rural area is covered.

The Bill will also create an age-verification regulator to publish guidelines about how pornographic websites should ensure their users are aged 18 or older. The regulator should also be able to fine those which fail to comply.

This aspect of the Bill is vital. Sadly, addiction to pornography is becoming endemic in 21st century Britain. It is a massive, growing and profitable industry.  When I was a teenager sneaking a look at the magazines on the top shelf was about all we could do, but these days almost every type of pornography is available to all internet users, no matter how young. The safeguards are inadequate.

Every adult has the right to access this stuff and this Bill will not change that, although I would advise people to be on their guard. My help has been sought over the years by several constituents who were in danger of losing everything by accessing explicit images of children, and they all confessed that their attraction started by watching ordinary adult porn. This is a deep cess-pit with steep slides.

It is vital to try to prevent children from getting hooked on porn at an early age. This is not easy when smart phones are now in the pocket of every teenager and it takes about three clicks to be viewing this dangerous material.

The internet is almost impossible to regulate, but we have to try. We are.

posted by Gary @ 10:11