The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published yesterday its final report in an inquiry on Disinformation and ‘fake news’ that calls for greater transparency in the digital sphere. In summary, the Committee recommends a compulsory code of ethics for tech companies, overseen by an independent regulator; legal action to be taken against companies in breach of the code; a reform in current electoral communications laws; rules on overseas involvement in UK elections; and an obligation on social media companies to take down sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation.
The report warned that social media companies should no longer be able to hide behind the veil of a ‘platform’ and evade all editorial responsibility for the content shared across their sites. The report specifically pointed the finger at Facebook, calling it the ‘digital gangster’ of the online world and that by refusing to appear in front of or respond to the Committee, Facebook had deliberately frustrated their work and shown contempt towards the UK Parliament. The report urged that the legislative tools exist to regulate the giant tech companies; they just need to be applied.
This might be the final report, but the Committee has said themselves that this is not the final word. We can also expect development at an EU Level given the European Commission recently reviewed steps taken under the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation and are of the same opinion; the internet giants must do more to combat the problem. You can read more about the EU strategy to tackle Disinformation here on MediaWrites.
Please watch this space for further analysis on the final report and its implications, but in the meantime – you can read the full report here.