Lords examines Digital Economy Bill

Stylised representation of internet.
24 March 2017

The Digital Economy Bill concludes report stage, a further chance to examine the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Wednesday 29 March.

Members are expected to discuss the BBC, public sector broadcasting channels on TV and digital menus, broadcasting media mergers, duties of Ofcom and filtering by internet access providers.

Third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, is scheduled for 5 April.

Lords report stage day two: Monday 20 March

Members discussed age verification for and regulation of online pornography and codes of practice for age verification providers and social media platforms.

There were five votes (divisions) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Members discussed a change to stop the same individuals acting as regulators for online pornography age verification and carrying out enforcement functions in relation to illegal material. This went to a vote where 155 members were in favour and 209 members were against. The change was not made.

The second vote was on a change to insert a definition of and regulate online extreme pornographic material. In this vote, 46 members were for and 176 were against, which meant this change was not made.

In the next vote, members considered a change to ensure age verification providers are approved and abide by a code of practice. Members voted 74 to 199 against this change, so this change was not made.

The fourth vote was on a change to force publication of a code of practice for social media providers on online abuse, including a duty of care to ensure the safety of young people. In this vote, 203 members were for and 176 were against. This change was made.

The final vote was on a change to require the government to publish a report on the impact of the bill's age verification sections. 179 members were in favour and 159 were against. This change was made.

A third day of report stage is scheduled for 22 March.

Lords report stage day one: Wednesday 22 February

Members discussed subjects including caps to mobile phone bills, copyright infringement, 4G and broadband provision.  There were three divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members discussed a change setting out speeds and other specifications for universal service broadband obligations, the services broadband providers must offer. There was a vote, with 250 members in favour and 206 against, so the change was made.

The second vote was on a change putting a cap on monthly mobile telephone bills and letting end-users change their providers more easily. In this vote, 244 members were in favour of the change with 182 against, so it was made.

The final vote was on a change requiring universal service broadband providers to offer a social tariff to prevent digital exclusion. 133 voted for this, with 182 against, so the change was not made.

A second day of report stage is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage day four: Wednesday 8 February 2017

Members discussed the BBC, including funding, governance and the BBC Charter. Members also discussed internet filters and the resale of tickets by online secondary ticket sellers.

Lords committee stage day three: Monday 6 February

Members discussed copyright infringement, codes of conduct for data sharing, and cyber-security reporting.

Lords committee stage day two: Thursday 2 February

Members discussed age verification, the prevention of online abuse and the independence of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Lords committee stage day one: Tuesday 31 January

Members discussed Ofcom annual reporting, communications equipment on buildings and bill limits for mobile phone contracts.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 13 December

Digital Economy Bill summary

This bill will:

  • provide a universal broadband service for the UK.
  • enable fast digital communication services for citizens and businesses.
  • shape the digital world to the benefit of children, consumers and businesses.
  • support the digital transformation of government.
  • enable delivery of better public services, research and statistics.
  • grant additional powers to Ofcom in respect of information provision, consumer switching and automatic compensation.
  • create a new Electronics Communication Code and other infrastructure matters.
  • provide better controls on online pornography, protection from nuisance calls and digital intellectual property.
  • enable data sharing between public authorities and certain measures relating to the BBC.

Further information

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