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Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further measures the Government plan to take to protect children and young people from pornographic material made available through file-sharing programmes. (125364)

All published material is subject to the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA). Under this Act, it is a criminal offence to publish any article which is considered to be obscene; that is, an article, which, in the view of the court, tends to ‘deprave and corrupt’ a person who is likely to see, hear or read it. This is a flexible test which has been shown to apply to material at a lower threshold where children are likely to access it. The OPA applies equally to material published over the internet, including material made available through file-sharing programmes.

The Government, through the Home Secretary’s Task Force for Child Protection on the Internet, are also promoting the development of a BSI kitemark for computer safety software which will help parents and carers choose the most effective technical means of protecting children from unsuitable internet-based content and services, including those which prevent the use of file-sharing software. There is also to be new Safety Software Sub-Group of the Taskforce to encourage internet and software services to seek accreditation, encourage take-up of the software by parents, and to ensure a process for review and updating the standard if it proves effective.