Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Timothy Michael Johnston

I am very grateful to the Government for launching this inquiry regarding Online Safety. Having attended a number of debates in Parliament and studied the Press Reports over a number of years, I believe that this Inquiry is long overdue.

Protection of children is at the heart of every parent and grandparent, and the advent of the internet and the simple accessibility of many websites by children and young people, is one of considerable concern.

I thoroughly agree with the argument that access controls need to be installed on every computer in the UK, particularly to the websites providing entertainment.

I believe that online gambling sites require age verification—surely therefore it is very simple to introduce the same filtering system where children and young people are seeking to access sites that are likely to harm them for life.

The Prime Minister is to be congratulated on holding meetings with the leading ISP’s, but he needs to be far more definite in insisting that these provider’s install these filters on their sites. I believe the Government are responsible to act very quickly on this issue—if there was an outbreak of war against Britain, the Government would step in to protect the people. The issue of online safety is a moral war on the safety and wellbeing of our youth and is the Government’s prime responsibility to protect them. Without the introduction of stringent controls our future generations will be defiled, corrupted and harmed for life, which surely is the last thing that any right minded parent or grandparent would want.

The complaint is often made that these sites originate from outside the UK—what is the difficulty in engaging the Governments on a global basis to combat this problem?

I realise that this engagement is not a straight forward matter but if Britain doesn’t take some strong measures against this avalanche of evil falling on our youth, then who is going to?

I have listened to Members of Parliament strongly asserting the needs of these controls to be brought in to be put in place and I am most thankful to hear these sentiments.

Could the CMS Committee ask the Government to set a timeline and target dates for the ISP’s to introduce these filters? These companies are amassing millions in revenue every minute of every day from the internet, so it is not a question of the cost of introducing such filtering restraints, it is more the disposition or the mind to do it, and the Government should force this issue before we experience more and more tragedies.

The recent horrific trials of persons murdering children surely galvanises this argument and make it very clear that something must be done and done quickly to protect our youth. Could the CMS Committee request the Government to set up without delay a legal team to look into the implications of introducing legislation to apply to the ISP providers in the UK?

Could the CMS Committee invoke any current legislation from Europe to apply in this country, and if not, could this request be made to our European partners so any new initiative could be rolled out to all countries in Europe. At least this would ensure that there is some restraint introduced in this country and on the Continent.

As a Christian parent and grand-parent, I would urge the CMS Committee to make a strong recommendation to the Government to introduce these filters with age verification as a matter of great urgency.

September 2013

Prepared 18th March 2014