Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee publishes interim report on Fake News | DMA

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Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee publishes interim report on Fake News


Today, the Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport released their report entitled ‘Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report’.

While it’s hard to believe that a phenomenon invented by Donald Trump is now the subject of a parliamentary report (“You will not believe the report on fake news. It’s the best report on fake news there is. Totally real. Not made up. Bigly.”), the fact is, disinformation and its spread is a problem for countries that value freedom of speech.

The report has several recommendations:

  1. Make tech companies responsible and liable when misinformation is disseminated
  2. Impose a levy on tech companies to fund education and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO)
  3. Change the rules on political campaigning
  4. Competition and Market Authority (CMA) audit of fake accounts
  5. Establish a Digital Atlantic Charter to reassure users their digital rights are guaranteed
  6. Identify and define other 'malign actors'

The release is only an interim report, with more investigation to come. Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy – based on the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate.

In this inquiry we have pulled back the curtain on the secretive world of the tech giants, which have acted irresponsibly with the vast quantities of data they collect from their users. Despite concerns being raised, companies like Facebook made it easy for developers to scrape user data and to deploy it in other campaigns without their knowledge or consent. Throughout our inquiry, these companies have tried to frustrate scrutiny and obfuscated in their answers. The light of transparency must be allowed to shine on their operations and they must be made responsible, and liable, for the way in which harmful and misleading content is shared on their sites.

[…] I believe what we have discovered so far is the tip of the iceberg. There needs to be far greater analysis done to expose the way advertising and fake accounts are being used on social media to target people with disinformation during election periods. The ever-increasing sophistication of these campaigns, which will soon be helped by developments in augmented reality technology, make this an urgent necessity.

Data crimes are real crimes, with real victims. This is a watershed moment in terms of people realising they themselves are the product, not just the user of a free service. Their rights over their data must be protected.”

The DMA has consistently lobbied for greater consumer rights and will continue to push government to implement data laws that protect consumers in their online lives.

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