- Facebook knowingly and intentionally violated privacy laws
- Social media giant says it is open to meaningful regulation
Facebook intentionally breached data privacy and competition law and should, along with other big tech companies, be subject to a new regulator to protect democracy and citizens' rights, British lawmakers said yesterday.
In a damning report that singled out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for what it said was a failure of leadership and personal responsibility, the British parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said tech firms had proved ineffective in stopping harmful content on their platforms.
This included disinformation, attempts by foreign countries to influence elections, and risks to personal data.
"We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people," committee chairman Damian Collins said.
Collins said the age of inadequate self-regulation must end, following an 18-month investigation that concluded Facebook had "intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws."
"The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator," he said.
Facebook rejected the suggestion it had breached data protection and competition laws, and said it shared the committee's concerns about false news and election integrity.
"We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee's recommendation for electoral law reform," Facebook's UK public policy manager Karim Palant said.
"We also support effective privacy legislation that holds companies to high standards in their use of data and transparency for users."
Lawmakers in Europe and the United States are scrambling to get to grips with the risks posed by big tech companies regulating the platforms used by billions of people.