Lords report calls for authority to regulate digital world
A House of Lords Communications Committee report calls for greater regulation of tech companies and recommends this is overseen by a new, overarching regulatory framework.
The ‘Regulating in a Digital World’ report calls for a new Digital Authority to regulate the digital world. It points to the failures of self regulation by big tech companies as well as “out of date” regulatory mechanisms which, it argues, have failed to recognise the increased role digital plays in society.
The Digital Authority, to be overseen by a new joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, would be guided by 10 principles. These are designed to make “the internet a better, more respectful environment which is beneficial to all”. These include ensuring businesses are open to scrutiny, that the internet remains open to innovation and competition and that ethical consideration puts users and society at the centre of services.
The report is forward thinking in its approach and it’s hard to disagree with the central tenet of it. The digital world is dominated by a small number of large organisations that have become incredibly powerful. The law making process and governance cannot keep pace with the speed of technological change and the growth of platforms and digital markets. Tackling the misuse of personal data, online abuse, and hate speech with a single organisation makes a lot of sense.
The challenge is that it’s not possible to create laws to regulate situations as yet unknown that aren’t either abstract or over reach their purpose. The 10 principles outlined in the report are a good place to start a discussion about the future regulation of the internet.
These proposals are and the ongoing conversation surrounding internet regulation are welcome and supported by CIPR's 2015 manifesto and 2017's Election Commentary urging the UK Government to "continue to involve itself in questions of internet governance and ask that it seeks to provide effective leadership." The CIPR will continue to monitor and comment on such moves and proposals.
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