House of Lords calls for tougher rules on tech firms

Keiligh Baker's picture

The House of Lords says tech firms such as Facebook and Twitter need to improve their "inadequate" responses to privacy breaches and anti-social content.

The Lords has called on the UK government to create a central 'Digital Authority' to take responsibility for regulating the watchdogs already operating in the space.

Noting that more than a dozen bodies — including the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Information Commissioners' Office (ICO) — have a remit that covers digital, the Lords have told government that the Digital Authority would be "an internal centre of expertise on digital trends which helps to scan the horizon for emerging risks and gaps in regulation".

"Self-regulation by online platforms which host user-generated content, including social media platforms, is failing. Their moderation processes are unacceptably opaque and slow," said the report, Regulating in a Digital World.

The Internet Association, whose members include Twitter and Amazon, said firms were committed to keeping users safe.

"Our members work hard to keep their services free of some of the most serious issues that the report mentions - from strong terms and conditions; to investment in hiring teams and improving systems for removing inappropriate content," a spokesman from the lobby group said.

The Lords Communication Committee chairman Lord Gilbert of Panteg said: "We have become so dependent on a very small number of companies and platforms. Tech companies have a special responsibility, yet they have not done enough to reduce online harm.

"Harmful, anti-social content - available freely on many platforms - is now greater than ever before."

The government is due to respond to its report within two months.