Facebook broke law, must be regulated to protect democracy, politicians say

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British politicians accused Facebook of knowingly and intentionally violating data privacy and antitrust law in a damning report into fake news published late Sunday.

The report says tech and social media companies should be forced to comply with a compulsory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator, which should have powers to take legal action against companies breaching the code.

The report comes as a result of an inquiry conducted last year by Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee into fake news and the spread of disinformation. When the revelations about the data consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica gaining access to millions of Facebook users’ data came to light in March 2018, the committee looked closely at the social network’s role in the scandal.

In the course of its investigations, the committee examined the ways in which Facebook might have impacted the outcome of elections, including possible Russian interference, ad targeting and access to user data that violated the privacy rights of users.

The report concluded that current electoral law is not fit for purpose in the digital age, leaving democracy at risk from online threats and that regulating social media will help curb these risks. The document also condemned some of Facebook’s policies and practices — in particular the way in which it prevented some smaller companies from accessing data, effectively killing their business.

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