After a series of scandals about Facebook in particular, but also YouTube (Google) and other platforms, governments are now involved in multiple negotiations with powerful internet intermediaries. The danger is that these complex processes will get bogged down and parliaments and the public will be played by the platforms. To ensure the best deal for the public, governments need a clearer overall strategy and coordination, and genuine support of the public.
The platforms have finally been dragged to the table. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify to the US Senate and the European Parliament. With several ad-hoc inquiries in the UK and the EU on issues such as internet regulation, fake news and hate speech, what happens next in Brussels, Washington, London and other capitals will shape not only the internet but the traditional media for generations. The emerging crisis has occurred because these platforms now play a crucial infrastructure role in most of our lives. They are too important and powerful to ignore.
DAMIAN TAMBINI says the first step in reining in platform power is to set up independent, cross-party, civil society commissions supported by governments
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