Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Arqiva

Summary of Key Points and Recommendations

Arqiva welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee’s timely new Inquiry into Online Safety.

Arqiva believes that children and young people should be able to enjoy the benefits of digital technology and the internet, whilst having the right to be safe online. Indeed, the commitment to ensure child safety online is a matter of grave importance—and should be a shared responsibility between parents, businesses and the wider communications industry including ISPs, web publishers, WiFi providers and government. Therefore, Arqiva is pleased to be a member of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and to have fully engaged with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), as well as government; key stakeholder organisations, businesses, retailers and manufacturers on this important issue.

Children gain access to the Internet from many devices: PCs, smartphones, tablets and games consoles; both their own and those owned by their friends and parents. Many of these devices gain access to the Internet via multiple networks: fixed broadband at home, mobile broadband and Public WiFi outside of the house. In simple terms, there are two main ways of filtering the Internet content presented to children:

all users, or for children only, where the network can firmly identify the user and the age of that user.

Arqiva believes that both measures are required to minimise the adult content available to children. The first would benefit from a consistent approach to content filtering for all Internet access networks that provide service in public places. The second requires education for parents and children, as well as a policy that all devices (and internet access software on those devices) should be supplied with adult content filtering turned on by default.

Arqiva recommends that government place greater emphasis on internet safety themes across the educational curriculum.

We believe that policy makers should do more to research and improve online protections for more vulnerable children; define inappropriate content and improve the means for identifying it online. In addition, more research should be conducted to understand the many different ways that children and young people are using internet enabled devices, especially in the home and within social environments.

We also believe that media and communications companies, including the public service broadcasters, play a key role in educating the public.

About Arqiva

Arqiva is a media infrastructure and technology company operating at the heart of the broadcast and mobile communications industry and at the forefront of network solutions and services in an increasingly digital world. Arqiva provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio and wireless communications in the UK and has a growing presence in Ireland, mainland Europe and the USA.

Arqiva was responsible for UK Digital “Switch-Over”—engineering from analogue television to Freeview—a huge logistical exercise which touched every Parliamentary constituency, requiring an investment by Arqiva of some £630 million and was successfully delivered to time and budget.

Arqiva is also a founder member and shareholder of Freeview (Arqiva broadcasts all six Freeview multiplexes and is the licensed operator of two of them) and was a key launch technology partner for Freesat. Arqiva is also the licensed operator of the Digital One national commercial DAB digital radio multiplex.

Arqiva operates five international satellite teleports, over 70 other staffed locations, and thousands of shared radio sites throughout the UK and Ireland including masts, towers and rooftops from under 30 to over 300 metres tall.

In addition for broadcasters, media companies and corporate enterprises Arqiva provides end-to-end capability ranging from:

satellite newsgathering (30 international broadcast trucks);

10 TV studios (co-located with post-production suites);

spectrum for Programme-Making & Special Events (PMSE)1;

playout (capacity to play out over 70 channels including HD); to

satellite distribution (over 1200 services delivered); and

Connect TV—who launched the first live streaming channel on Freeview.

Arqiva’s WiFi network includes almost every UK airport—and reaches cross the hospitality and leisure sector, providing WiFi to 85,000 rooms in leading hotel chains, and many restaurants, retail chains and shopping centres and local high streets.

Elsewhere in the communications sector, the company supports cellular, wireless broadband, video, voice and data solutions for the mobile phone, public safety, public sector, public space and transport markets.

Arqiva’s major customers include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BSkyB, Classic FM, the four UK mobile operators, Metropolitan Police and the RNLI.

The Questions

Key, Overarching Issues:

How best to protect minors from accessing adult content;

Filtering out extremist material, including images of child abuse and material intended to promote terrorism or other acts of violence;

Preventing abusive or threatening comments on social media.

1. Arqiva welcomes the opportunity to respond to the CMS Select Committee’s timely new inquiry into Online Safety.

2. Over the past decade the UK’s media, broadcasting, telecommunications and technology industries have undergone unprecedented, profound and exciting change. As a result of digitisation, the traditional boundaries between what were once separate universes: Content, Communications and Computing are eroding. Such “convergence” has seen the blurring of boundaries between the media, telecoms and information technology sectors.

3. Technology is becoming an integral part of both modern life and children’s lives. According to Ofcom: 90% of children live in a household with access to the internet through either a PC, laptop or netbook;2 whilst 65% of children use the internet “almost every day”.3 Young people are increasingly taking part in a wide range of activities online, enabling them to discover and access a wide range of content, connect with their friends and family, as well as offering the potential to create and distribute their own content. Young people are understandably excited, stimulated and motivated by these developments. Indeed, recent research suggests that primary age children are “highly engaged” with digital technology.4 It is essential for policy makers and educators to continue to research and understand the many different ways that children and young people are using internet enabled devices, especially in the home and within social environments.

4. However, as well as bringing exciting new benefits, new forms of communication and emerging platforms bring new opportunities for misuse. Whereas, traditionally, the public service broadcasters were trusted by parents to provide quality viewing and listening content; suitable for children and family/inter-generational viewing and delivered in a linear fashion; and at a suitable time (ie: pre or post-9pm watershed); we have witnessed how in recent years emerging commercial “new media” platforms and social networking, in a largely unregulated space, have exposed young people to a range of new dangers—from the exposure to “adult content”, to the phenomena of “cyberbullying”, “grooming”, “sexting”, “self-harm”, gaming, gambling, as well as illegal downloading and file sharing, or online fraud.

5. Child safety (online or offline) is a hotly debated issue. As Dr Tanya Byron has noted “A focus on the most terrible but least frequent risks can skew debate in a direction that sends out negative and fear-based messages to children, young people and families.”5 In this context, it is interesting to note that Ofcom studies suggest that parents are more concerned about the media content delivered via the television (23% very or fairly concerned) than via a child’s access to the internet (17%).6

6. In his recent speech on Internet Safety the Prime Minister distinguished between two challenges: “the criminal and the cultural”, namely, the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet, and the fact that many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very early age.7 We agree with the Prime Minister that “…these challenges are very distinct and very different. In one we’re talking about illegal material, the other is legal material that is being viewed by those who are underage.” It is critical that these debates are left separate, and that discussion on the latter remains proportionate and balanced.

7. Arqiva believes that children and young people should be able to enjoy the benefits of digital technology and the internet, whilst having the right to be safe online. Indeed, the commitment to ensure child safety online is a matter of grave importance—and should be a shared responsibility between parents, businesses and the wider communications industry including ISPs, web publishers, WiFi providers and government. Therefore, Arqiva is pleased to be a member of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and to have fully engaged with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), as well as government; key stakeholder organisations, businesses, retailers and manufacturers on this important issue.

Protecting Children through filters

8. As one of the six main public WiFi providers (with BT, Nomad, Sky, Virgin Media and O2), we provide internet access through WiFi, which is used by the public in a variety of means. Arqiva’s recent contracts include the provision of WiFi to UK airports (including Heathrow; Stansted; Glasgow; Edinburgh; Manchester and Southampton); several hotels and retail environments (including Premier Inns and Enterprise Pubs); as well as several local authorities, including Manchester City Centre; and several London Boroughs.

9. As a member of the Internet Watch Foundation we are committed to blocking access to child sexual abuse content and other illegal material. We are also committed to blocking terrorist content, as well as intolerance and hate, and criminal activity. This applies across our network.

10. We believe that it is particularly important to have strong protection in public places particularly where unsupervised children might reasonably be found on a regular basis. Therefore, in the absence of a specific request from our business customers, we commit that our standard public WiFi offering will also include filters to block pornography. This will help prevent children and young people from accessing inappropriate pornographic material themselves, and should also limit accidental exposure to inappropriate material that nearby adults might be looking at in public.

11. Children gain access to the Internet from many devices: PCs, smartphones, tablets and games consoles; both their own and those owned by their friends and parents. Many of these devices gain access to the Internet via multiple networks: fixed broadband at home, mobile broadband and Public WiFi outside of the house. In simple terms, there are two main ways of filtering the Internet content presented to children:

all users, or for children only, where the network can firmly identify the user and the age of that user.

Arqiva believes that both measures are required to minimise the adult content available to children. The first would benefit from a consistent approach to content filtering for all Internet access networks that provide service in public places. The second requires education for parents and children, as well as a policy that all devices (and internet access software on those devices) should be supplied with adult content filtering turned on by default.

12. It is unfortunate that, on occasion, filters can also mistakenly “over-block” and prevent access to sites which parents would be content to let their children browse. Arqiva recognises this can sometimes be frustrating for consumers.

13. However, it is also important to guard against a false sense of security. Parents must be made aware that turning filters on does not immediately make the Internet “safe”. Parents should be encouraged to talk to their children about what they do online and offline.

14. Filters can only block domains or websites—they cannot filter content or behaviour within sites such as social media platforms. Given that these platforms are a major driver of young people using the internet, it is important for these platforms to be vigilant themselves at combating cyber-bulling or anti-social behaviour.

Protecting Consumers through education

15. Young people’s use of the internet should be an incredibly rewarding experience—both within the school gates, and during their extra curricula home and social life. Activities that harness new technologies can make a valuable contribution to the wider school curriculum and to children’s learning. Arqiva recommends that government place greater emphasis on internet safety themes across the educational curriculum. We believe that policy makers should do more to research and improve online protections for more vulnerable children; define inappropriate content and improve the means for identifying it online.

16. Arqiva are proud to work with government, UKCCIS and others to establish clear, simple benchmarks and classifications for parental control solutions. We believe parents should be empowered with the skills and knowledge to protect their children while going online at home. In particular, parental controls can help limit the chances of children being exposed to inappropriate online content. Arqiva welcomes parental control features that may be included in new technology such as personal computers, computer and video games, computer software, mobile phones and digital television services. These controls can be used to limit access to only age appropriate content, to set usage times and limits and to monitor activity.

17. There are many ways of accessing and downloading music, film, TV and video safely online and it is important that children and young people understand how to download content legally. Copyright law applies to downloading, sharing and streaming—just as in the world of physical CDs and DVDs. Improved “media literacy” should make explicit that those who make music, film or TV content available to others on a file-sharing network, download from an illegal site, or sell copies without the permission of those who own the copyright, are effectively breaking the law and could face serious penalties. In addition, illegal file-sharing programmes and websites pose greater risks to your computer or mobile phone than legitimate sites. Users often unwittingly download viruses or spyware and can inadvertently share personal computer files and information. Some files are purposely misnamed on file-sharing and peer-to-peer networks to trick people into downloading them.

18. When it comes to online safety, we also believe that media and communications companies, including the public service broadcasters, play a key role in educating the public. The BBC should be praised for regularly commissioning innovative, multi-platform content which inspires and educates audiences. The BBC’s sixth Public Purpose includes “Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services:” Indeed, the BBC’s content and services are perhaps the most powerful means to drive adoption as well as to educate the public as to the risks of emerging technologies. The BBC is a trusted guide to the digital world for the inexperienced or unsure, a safe place to be for the young, a reliable and accurate on-air and online source for the information seeker, and a challenging and involving partner for the more advanced user. Ultimately, “online safety” should be regarded as an important plank of the BBC’s commitment to support the media literacy of all its audience.

The need for research

19. There is a growth in using alternative portable devices (including mobiles and portable media players) to access online content in a variety of places and without parental supervision. Use of mobile phones continues to grow among young people—around 90% of young people over the age of 11 own a mobile phone. There is also a popular perception that online behaviour on shared devices in the family living room is “safer” than behaviour on mobiles, personal tablets or portable devices. However, Arqiva notes that some experts suggest there is little evidence on the links between using more portable devices and the online risks young people face in using such devices.8 Therefore, it is essential for policy makers and educators to continue to research and understand the many different ways that children and young people are using internet enabled devices, especially in the home and within social environments. Similarly, Ofcom has estimated that 43% of children have an active social network (Facebook, Myspace or Bebo) profile, and across social networking sites it is estimated that children aged 8–11 years have 92 friends—and have not met 12% of them face-to-face, and those aged 12–15 years have 286 friends—and have not met 25% of them face-to-face.9 More research is needed to explore the links between where, with what, how often and with whom, children access the internet and the likelihood of online risks.

September 2013

1 Such as the wireless cameras operated by the BBC and Sky News, and the radio microphones used in virtually all television production and many West End shows.

2 Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013

3 This is split across; 38% of 5–7 year olds, 62% of 8–11 year olds, 87% of 12–15 year olds—Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media use and attitudes report (Oct’12)

4 UK Safety Internet Centre—Safer Internet Day—Have Your Say Report February 2013: 86% of 7–11s use some form of online communication tool, such as social networks and virtual worlds (56%), chat functions in online gaming (38%) or using webcams (28%). The internet is crucial for schoolwork, and 94% of 7–11s say they have little trouble finding information for their school work on the internet. Secondary age children are prolific online communicators: 96% of young people age 11-19 use some form of online communication tool, including services such as social networks (74%), emails (72%), instant messaging (68%), webcams (52%), chat functions in online gaming (45%), chat rooms (17%) and blogs (14%). Young people are also contributing to the production of online content: a quarter (24%) of 11–19s have created a website, 21% have created a game, 14% have created an app and 12% have created a blog

5 Do we have safer children in a digital world? A review of progress since the 2008 Byron Review—Professor Tanya Byron March 2010

6 Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media use and attitudes report (Oct’12)

7 Speech by Rt Hon David Cameron MP, 22 July 2013—delivered to NSPCC

8 NFER Report “Children’s online risks and safety—a review of the available evidence” (2010)—commissioned by UKCCIS

9 Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media use and attitudes report (Oct’12);

Prepared 18th March 2014