Lords Committee calls for new Digital Authority

Regulation of digitalisation is out of step with its widespread adoption and influence according to The House of Lords Communications Committee which has called for a new overarching regulatory framework and the enforcement of a 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 single body which has complete oversight.

It says regulation of the digital environment is fragmented with gaps and overlaps and against this backdrop 'big tech companies have failed to adequately tackle online harms', says the report.

Committee Chairman Lord Gilbert of Panteg stated: “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“Self-regulation by online platforms is clearly failing and the current regulatory framework is out of date.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.”

The Committee recommends that a new Digital Authority should be established to co-ordinate regulators, continually assess regulation and make recommendations on which additional powers are necessary to fill gaps.

The Digital Authority should play a key role in providing the public, the Government and Parliament with the latest information. It should report to a new joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, whose remit would be to consider all matters related to the digital world.

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