Senior lawmakers in the U.K. recommended the British government take tougher measures to keep technology companies like Facebook in check, adding that companies should be subject to a compulsory code of ethics to tackle the spread of fake news, the abuse of users’ data and the bullying of smaller firms.
Damian Collins, the policy maker who spearheaded the inquiry, called for Parliament to create new laws to help a proposed regulator oversee the industry, with fines for companies to be calculated based on their revenue.
“Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers,” Collins said in a statement Monday. “We also have to accept that our electoral regulations are hopelessly out of date for the internet age.”
In their report, the British lawmakers found that Facebook was “willing” to override its users’ privacy settings so a number of app developers could access their data. They suggest that
U.K.’s election regulator should be given increased power to fine social media companies relative to their annual revenue.
The report also claims that Facebook executives "misled" lawmakers during the investigation or were "deliberately not briefe"” by the company’s leaders about Russian interference in foreign elections. They also found “strong evidence” that oreign state actors influenced the 2016 Brexit vote.
The committee’s reccomendations are legally binding, but could be a guide for drafting new legislation in the U.K.
“We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform,” said Facebook’s public policy manager, Karim Palant.
He added that Facebook is “not the same company” it was a year ago and had already made substantial changes to its procedures.
Facebook became the focus of the committee’s 18-month inquiry after whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had obtained the data of millions of users of the social network.
The British lawmaker also identified major threats to society from the dominance of tech companies such as Google and Twitter.