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Self-regulation of IT not working, say Lords

Regulation of the digital world has not kept pace with its role in our lives. The House of Lords Communications Committee has called for a new, overarching regulatory framework so that the services in the digital world are held accountable to an enforceable set of shared principles.

In its report Regulating in a Digital World the committee notes that over a dozen UK regulators have a remit covering the digital world but there is no body which has complete oversight. As a result, regulation of the digital environment is fragmented, with gaps and overlaps. Big tech companies have failed to adequately tackle online harms, it says

Responses to growing public concern have been piecemeal and inadequate. The Committee recommends a new Digital Authority, guided by 10 principles to inform regulation of the digital world.

The chairman of the committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, said: “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. Self-regulation by online platforms is clearly failing and the current regulatory framework is out of date.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. Our proposals will ensure that rights are protected online as they are offline while keeping the internet open to innovation and creativity, with a new culture of ethical behaviour embedded in the design of service.”