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Children (Online Safety)

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he intends to take to ensure mobile phone companies provide advice and guidance (a) to parents on how to safeguard children from access to inappropriate content and sites and (b) directly to children about online safety in general, and in particular the dangers of giving personal information to strangers in chat rooms or via the internet. [118855]

We are in discussion with providers of mobile phone services through my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet, which they have joined. A sub-group of the task force is considering with them how the models of good practice which we issued earlier this year for the fixed internet are applicable to the mobile industry. The models include advice in both these areas. I am confident that the mobile phone companies have taken notice of these issues, and I understand they will be issuing a code of practice for consultation shortly which will include proposals in these areas. in the type of minor, often drink-related, offending covered by the scheme to be issued with fixed penalty notices.The Licensing Bill now before Parliament will, if enacted, amend existing legislation to allow the police to confiscate all alcohol, whether in sealed or opened containers, from young people who are drinking in public places.The Home Office is also working with the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit on their project to develop a cross-governmental alcohol harm reduction strategy for England. The project is paying particular attention to issues such as alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour as well as the health impacts of alcohol misuse. The strategy is planned for publication in autumn 2003.