UK to Regulate and Tax Facebook In Order to ‘Protect Democracy’

Foreign governments are preparing to crack down on social media monopolies.

An English House of Commons committee, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, released a report claiming Facebook’s flaws were “risking the U.K.’s democracy.”

Lawmakers from eight other countries — Canada, Brazil, France, Ireland, Argentina, Singapore, Belgium and Latvia — joined with the House of Commons to investigate Facebook, according to Fortune magazine The report detailed the issues concerning “fake news” that was being spread on the platform as well as the multiple data and privacy leaks that have plagued Facebook in the past year. The report called for regulation and taxation of Facebook.

The Committee blamed “new populist, right-wing news sites” for “disinformation.” The report stated, "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."

In order to stop the shares of disinformation, the Committee recommended that “more obstacles should be incorporated into social media give people time to consider what they are writing and sharing.”

The report recommended that social media companies should be categorized under a new kind of tech company, where they assume “legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users.” Large fines would be imposed for failure to comply.

It also stated that because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to appear before the Committee, after being invited several times, he had “shown contempt” towards the U.K. Parliament. The Committee took this to mean that Facebook was in fact opposed to regulation by the government.

In addition, the Committee called for a 2 percent “digital services tax” on revenues from technology companies. The profits from this tax would be used to fund the regulation of these companies.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, the chair of the Committee, Damian Collins, said “We should have a proper code of ethics, set in stature with an independent regulator to oversee whether the tech companies are complying or not.”

Facebook responded to the report, saying that the company was “open to meaningful regulation.”

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