Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has been investigating disinformation and fake news following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and is claiming that the UK faces a democratic crisis due to the spread of pernicious
views and the manipulation of personal data.
In its first report it will suggest social media companies should face tighter censorship. It also proposes measures to combat election interference.
The report claims that the relentless targeting
of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to influence their voting plans is a threat to democracy.
The report was very critical of Facebook, which has been under increased scrutiny following the Cambridge
Analytica data scandal.
Facebook has hampered our efforts to get information about their company throughout this inquiry. It is as if it thinks that the problem will go away if it does not share information about the problem, and reacts only when
it is pressed, the report said. It provided witnesses who have been unwilling or unable to give full answers to the committee's questions.
The committee suggests:
1. Social media sites should be held responsible for harmful content on
Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a 'platform', claiming that they are tech companies and have no role themselves in regulating the content of their sites, the committee said.
They continually change what is and is not seen on their sites, based on algorithms and human intervention.
They reward what is most engaging, because engagement is part of their business model and their growth strategy. They have profited greatly by using this model.
The committee suggested a new category of tech company should be created, which
was not necessarily a platform or a publisher but something in between.
This should establish clear legal liability for the tech companies to act against harmful and illegal content on their platforms, the report said.
rules on political campaigns should be made fit for the digital age
The committee said electoral law needed to be updated to reflect changes in campaigning techniques.
It suggested creating a public register for political
advertising so that anybody can see what messages are being distributed online political advertisements should have a digital imprint stating who was responsible, as is required with printed leaflets and advertisements social media sites should be held
responsible for interference in elections by malicious actors electoral fraud fines should be increased from a maximum of £20,000 to a percentage of organisations' annual turnover
3. Technology companies should be taxed to fund
education and regulation
Increased regulation of social media sites would result in more work for organisations such as the Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
The committee suggested a levy on tech
companies should fund the expanded responsibilities of the regulators.
The money should also be spent on educational programmes and a public information campaign, to help people identify disinformation and fake news.
networks should be audited
The committee warned that fake accounts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter not only damage the user experience, but potentially defraud advertisers.
It suggested an independent authority such as the
Competition and Markets Authority should audit the social networks.
It also said security mechanisms and algorithms used by social networks should be available for audit by a government regulator, to ensure they are operating responsibly.
Offsite Comment: Now MPs want to police political discussion
31st July 2018. See
article from spiked-online.com by Mick Hume
Those members of parliament are half right at least. Democracy in Britain and the West is at risk today. But contrary to the wild claims in their fake-news report, the real risk does not come from Russian bloggers or shady groups farming Facebook users'
data. The big threat comes from political elitists like the cross-party clique of Remainer MPs who dominate the DCMS committee.
...Read the full
article from spiked-online.com
Offsite Comment: British MPs, like authoritarians
from Moscow to Malaysia...
31st July 2018. See article from nationalreview.com by Andrew Stuttaford
It looks a lot as if these MPs, like authoritarians from Moscow to Malaysia, have been inspired by the
strikingly illiberal precedent set by Angela Merkel's social media law . In particular, part of the idea behind sticking social media companies with legal liability is to scare them into going even further in muzzling free speech than the strict letter
of the law requires.
...Read the full article from nationalreview.com