UK: Facebook should be investigated for "intentionally" violating privacy laws, say MPs
British MPs have called for a regulator to police content on social media sites as well as a compulsory code of ethics following the release of a report on 18 February 2019 on the effect of disinformation on past electoral contests. The report also accused Facebook of “intentionally and knowingly” violating data privacy laws and said it should be the subject of a probe by the competition and data watchdogs. More information, including a statement from Facebook is available below.
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Author: Jane Wakefield, BBC
MPs said that what was needed to deal with the proliferation of disinformation online and the misuse of personal data was a "radical shift in the balance of power between social media platforms and the people".
The inquiry into fake news, which lasted more than a year, was conducted by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, with much of the evidence focusing on the business practices of Facebook before and after the Cambridge Analytica scandal...
"The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights."
The report called for:
- a compulsory code of ethics for tech companies, overseen by an independent regulator
- the regulator to be given powers to launch legal action if companies breach the code...
- social media companies to be forced to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation...
In response, Facebook said: "We share the committee's concerns about false news and election integrity and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their investigation over the past 18 months, answering more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives giving evidence.
"We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform. But we're not waiting. We have already made substantial changes so that every political ad on Facebook has to be authorised, state who is paying for it and then is stored in a searchable archive for seven years. No other channel for political advertising is as transparent and offers the tools that we do." ...
Facebook is "open to meaningful regulation", it said on Monday after British lawmakers said that big technology companies should be subject to a compulsory code of ethics to tackle the spread of fake news and abuse of users' data.
"We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform," said Facebook's public policy manager, Karim Palant.
He added that Facebook is "not the same company" it was a year ago and had already made substantial changes to its procedures.