I have been successful in the ballot to obtain a two and a half hour debate on the adequacy of the safeguards protecting children and young people using social networking sites on the internet.
The debate will be on the afternoon of Thursday 12th February 2009 and appears on the order paper as:
Lord Harris of Haringey to call attention to the growth in the use of social networking internet sites by children and the adequacy of safeguards to protect their privacy and interests; and to move for papers.
The process was that at the beginning of the session I tabled my debate proposal and waited to see whether it would be successful in the ballot: in fact, I gather it was fourth in the ballot for 12th February but those winning the top two slots couldn’t manage the date.
I have been interested in the issue for some time and I hope the debate will cover the extent to which children and young people are encouraged to post personal information on social networking sites to an extent that damages not only their personal security but also their future job prospects. Nearly 50% of those aged 8 to 17 living in this country are – according to OFCOM – members of an online network community. Often the warnings given to those signing on for the first time are inadequate. The Home Office has issued guidance to social network providers but the guidance is not mandatory and has little effect on sites run from outside the UK.