Desiderata – A New Blog on Child Protection

Labour Party

 Child security and the distribution of child abuse images online is a very important issue.  You may remember me blogging about the use of internet blocking last year (read the blog here).  A very useful resource in finding out about this subject is a relatively new blog called Desiderata (Latin for ‘things you desire or need).  

I should say that the blog is written by an old friend of mine, John Carr, who I have known for many years.  As well as an old friend though, he is a world expert in the field of child safety and security online, as an adviser to the British Government and the United Nations.  Further more, John is an executive on the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online and is Secretary of the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (made up of NSPCC, Action for Children, Barnardo’s and many more). He has also provided advice for Microsoft, MySpace and Google as well as a number of the UK’s leading mobile phone service providers.  John was also the worthy recipient of an OBE for services to child security online.  So you can see he is well placed to offer advice and analysis on many of the problems that worry many parents and people responsible for young children and teenagers.

The blocking of internet sites that contain child pornography is one of the first issues that John tackles on his new blog.  If you would like to read a well written and thorough defence of blocking and a debunking of the arguments against then please click here, I highly recommend it.  He writes with clarity, never overly technical so even relative laymen like me can understand, and has a mastery over the subject matter, not surprising given his unparalleled level of expertise in this area.  Blocking was recently voted on in the Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee, and it did not go the way he or I would have hoped.  I was happy that most if not all UK MEPs were in favour blocking, but perhaps if a few more MEPs from other delegations, particularly Germany, had read John’s blog, we may have got a better result.

Apart from that I think we can expect a high level of discussion about all current issues and debates surrounding the important subject of child security online.  In his most recent posts John talks about the possibility of Internet Service Providers doing more to stop children accessing inappropriate material.  He suggests solutions that I think would definitely meet the approval of any parent or carer who reads it.  I’m sure we will see a lot more like this in the future.

Andrew McIntosh

Labour Party

It is with some trepidation that I write about Andrew McIntosh, Labour peer and member of the Greater London Council, who died at the end of August.  He achieved much during his time in public life and will, I believe, be remembered as a leading light in London Labour politics.

 One of his less remembered but important contributions was his work on the 2005 Gambling Act in his capacity as a Minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

 John Carr, one of Andrew’s GLC colleagues,  writes about this in today’s Guardian. Andrew was, in fact, very successful in this matter. Since the legislation became operative, children’s organisations are not aware of a single instance where a child has managed to evade the system.     

 I first met Andrew when I worked at County Hall in the late 1970s. I remember him as a friendly and approachable GLC Member, even though at the time we were in different Labour Party camps.  Then, as now, I was on the side of Ken Livingstone and supported Ken on the London Labour Party Executive where I was a member for much of the 1980s.     

 After Ken Livingstone became Leader of the Greater London in 1981, Andrew went on to serve in the House of Lords for nearly 30 years. He was Labour frontbench spokesperson variously on education, industry and the environment, rising to be deputy leader of the opposition in the Lords (1992-97). After 1997 Andrew became deputy chief whip in the Lords, speaking for those many departments with no Lords minister of their own until, in 2005, he gained ministerial office in the DCMS.

 Of particular interest to me as an MEP is the fact that Andrew was a member of the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly from 2005 and chair of its education and media subcommittee from 2008 until his death. He was very well regarded, a formidable chair, and in January 2007 the Council appointed him its rapporteur on media freedom. He also worked to advance the Bologna Process, designed to ease the movement of university students and staff around Europe, something I deal with in my role on the European Parliament Culture and Education Committee.

He was, in addition, an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association and a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary humanist group.