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03 October 2019

Lord Black Calls For Publisher Exemption From Age Verification Codes  

Speaking in Parliament, Lord Black of Brentwood has highlighted the “serious concerns” among news publishers about the Information Commissioners Office's age appropriate design draft code and has called for a “total exemption” from the scope of the code.

In Questions on the code proposals, chairman of the News Media Association's legal, policy and regulatory affairs committee Lord Black said the proposals would have a “disastrous impact” on news media publishers if they were “caught accidentally in its terms.”

Lord Black, deputy chairman of Telegraph Media Group, said: “My noble friend will be aware of serious concerns among news publishers about the scope of the proposed code, which could have a disastrous impact on their commercial position if they were caught accidentally in its terms.

“Does my noble friend therefore agree that a total exemption for publishers who do not present any danger to children should be written into the code and not left to the chance of guidance?”

The Minister, Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen, said it was “not a question I can answer at the moment” but added that the Information Commissioner was “talking to stakeholders and everybody concerned with the Act.”

The consultation had received more than 1,000 responses, she added.

In its submission, the NMA called for an exclusion from the code for news media publishers, adding that it strongly objected to the ICO’s “startling extension” of its regulatory remit.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has moved to reassure publishers that they will not be affected by the plans.

Speaking to the DCMS Select Committee in July, Ms Denham said: “We want to encourage children to find out about the world, we want children to access news sites.

“So the concern about the impact of the code on media and editorial comment and journalism I think is unfounded. She added: “We don't think there will be an impact on news media sites. They are already regulated and we are not a media regulator.”