UK upper house calls for digital ‘super-regulator’
The UK’s House of Lords has called for the creation of a digital super-regulator to oversee the different bodies charged with safeguarding the internet and replace the “clearly failing” system of self-regulation by big technology companies, reports the Guardian. “A new digital authority is the chief recommendation of the Lords’ Communications Committee report, which warns that the patchwork quilt of more than a dozen regulators that oversee the digital realm creates gaps and overlaps. Big tech companies, it says, have failed to adequately tackle online harm, and Ofcom’s remit should be expanded to include responsibility for enforcing a duty of care on those companies.” Chair of the committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, called on the government to be less reactive in how it responds to digital risks: “The government should not just be responding to news headlines but looking ahead so that the services that constitute the digital world can be held accountable to an agreed set of principles,” he said. “Self-regulation by online platforms is clearly failing and the current regulatory framework is out of date. The evidence we heard made a compelling and urgent case for a new approach to regulation. Without intervention, the largest tech companies are likely to gain ever more control of technologies which extract personal data and make decisions affecting people’s lives.” The Digital Authority should be guided by a charter of 10 basic principles of online regulation, the lords say. These include parity (there should be the same level of protection online as offline); transparency (powerful businesses and organisations operating in the digital world must be open to scrutiny); and recognition of childhood (the most vulnerable users of the internet should be protected). “The main role of the authority would be hands-off, leaving the existing regulators, such as the Information Commissioner’s Office, Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority, to continue their work. Instead, its function would involve oversight of the full spectrum of regulation, recommending new legislation when there are clear gaps, mediating when there are overlaps, and reporting to parliament periodically on the state of regulation of the internet.” Read more and Communications Committee site here.
- Monday, 18 March 2019