A British parliamentary committee has criticised Facebook and other online giants and called for greater control over web service companies.
In a report on online political disinformation and data misuse by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, Facebook is accused of deliberately breaking privacy and competition laws multiple times and should be subject to statutory regulation ‘urgently’.
In a report of 111 pages, Facebook is mentioned more than 500 times, and was referred to as a “digital gangster” on two occasions.
After investigating the company’s practices for a year and a half, the committee also said that Facebook deliberately obstructed the inquiries issued by the committee, and did next to nothing when Russia tried to interfere with other countries’ elections.
“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins.
Mark Zuckerberg was also accused of “contempt towards both the UK Parliament and the International Grand Committee’, by choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to its invitations, instead sending juniors who were incompetent of answering its questions.
According to The Guardian, Labour was quick to endorse the report.
“We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy,” said party deputy leader Tom Watson.