Mon | Apr 22, 2019

UK wants tougher rules for Facebook

Published:Monday | February 18, 2019 | 12:29 PM
AP photo

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers issued a scathing report Monday that calls for tougher rules to keep Facebook and other tech firms from acting like “digital gangsters” and intentionally violating data privacy and competition laws.

The report on fake news and disinformation on social media sites followed an 18-month investigation by Parliament’s influential media committee.

The committee recommended that social media sites should have to follow a mandatory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to better control harmful or illegal content.

The report called out Facebook in particular, saying that the site’s structure seems to be designed to “conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions.”

“It is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws,” the report said.

It also accused CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing contempt for the U.K. Parliament by declining numerous invitations to appear before the committee.

“Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the report added.

U.K. parliamentary committee reports are intended to influence government policy, but are not binding.

The committee said it hoped its conclusions would be considered when the government reviews its competition powers in April.

The government said it welcomed the “report’s contribution towards our work to tackle the increasing threat of disinformation and to make the U.K. the safest place to be online. We will respond in due course.”

While the U.K. is part of the 28-country European Union, it is due to leave the bloc in late March, so it is unclear whether any regulatory decisions it takes could influence those of the EU.

Facebook said it shared “the committee’s concerns about false news and election integrity” and was open to “meaningful regulation.”

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