UK: Democracy under threat from ‘pandemic of misinformation’ online, say Lords Committee

Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, plus the Committee's press release and press coverage.


"Recommendations

  • The report says the Government must take action 'without delay' to ensure tech giants are held responsible for the harm done to individuals, wider society and our democratic processes through misinformation widely spread on their platforms.
  • The Committee says online platforms are not 'inherently ungovernable' but power has been ceded to a "few unelected and unaccountable digital corporations" including Facebook and Google, and politicians must act now to hold those corporations to account when they are shown to negatively influence public debate and undermine democracy.
  • The Committee sets out a package of reforms which, if implemented, could help restore public trust and ensure democracy does not 'decline into irrelevance'."

Democracy under threat from ‘pandemic of misinformation’ online, say Lords Committee (parliament.uk, link)

Select Committee report: Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust (pdf)

See also: Online ‘pandemic of misinformation’ poses existential threat to UK’s democracy, report says (The Independent):

"An online ‘pandemic of misinformation’ is posing an existential threat to the UK’s democracy and way of life, according to a chilling parliamentary report.

The report accused government ministers of failing to get to grips with the urgency of the challenges of the digital age.

And it called for immediate action to rein in tech giants, including new powers for proposed online harms regulator Ofcom to fine digital companies up to 4 per cent of their global turnover or force ISP blocking of serial offenders."

And: Lords call for £500,000 fines for breaking election laws (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The maximum fine for breaking election laws should be increased from £20,000 to £500,000, a House of Lords committee has said. The reform is one of a number of changed to electoral laws which they say should be introduced "without delay".

In a sign of the broad support for such moves, to date more than 156,000 people have backed an openDemocracy campaign calling for fines to be increased on political campaigners when they breach the rules.

Now, in a new report, the Lords say that the maximum fine for a breach of the laws of British democracy should be half a million pounds, or 4% of campaign spend, whichever is bigger."

 

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