MP speaks out for net

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A SOUTHSIDE MP has joined an online debate about the internet.

Tom Harris has made his feelings about the growth of the web known in Virgin Media’s Our Digital Future.

In an interview — which is published online — the MP talks about his concerns that Glasgow has less people, per capita, on the net than any other area in the UK.

The digi-savvy politician also heaped praise on the net and said, with a few precautions, it could enrich people’s lives.

Recognising that some people fear the threat to children, Mr Harris said that, with a few safeguards in place it was a great opportunity for people.

He said: “Sections of the media and large parts of the political establishment simply see the internet as a threat to children and nothing more than that.

“And the internet is so big, so amazing and so life and society transforming I think it’s a shame if we allow ourselves to think that the internet is simply a threat.”

Mr Harris continued by urging children to receive more information to allow a better understanding of what the internet was about.

He said: “But let’s not kid ourselves, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that that the internet is simply a threat, it’s not, it’s an opportunity far more than that.

“If anyone says they know exactly how the web is going to develop, I would immediately say they’re wrong.

“It will develop in ways that we don’t expect.

“What I can say confidently is that it will be just as, if not more, necessary in our lives in the future.

“How it develops, and the direction it develops, is incredibly exciting because that is up to the users.

“Probably the most democratic weapon that we actually have as individual citizens and its up to the people who use the internet to decide the direction it’s going to expand in.”

The MP who caused a stir when he put a spoof video on the internet likening first minister Alex Salmond to Adolf Hitler added that it was important for governments to stand back from trying to curb or regulate the web and insisted that the net was for everyone.

He concluded: “I think the future is incredibly exciting and I cannot wait to see what the internet looks like in 10 or 20 years time.

“Ordinary people out there should not be scared of the internet: they should embrace it because it’s going to change their lives and change their lives for the better.”

Tom Harris was the internet guru for Scottish Labour until a year ago when he uploaded the spoof video, from 2004 movie Dowfall, with mock subtitles to suggest that Mr Salmond was speaking instead of Hitler.

Mr Harris apologised for the video.