Government publishes response to Committee report on Disinformation

May 9, 2019

The UK government has rejected the DCMS Committee’s calls for an investigation of Facebook data protection policies in their response to the Committee’s final report on Disinformation.

In summary, the UK government has accepted the Committee’s proposals for a new regulatory framework for social media companies, new powers for the regulator, an audit of the social media advertising market and a greater transparency of social media relating to foreign inference.

The government notes that the Competition and Markets Authority is responsible for the enforcement of competition policy and therefore decisions over investigations are a matter for the CMA. However, it has written to the CMA encouraging it to investigate digital advertising. Furthermore, as mentioned above, it agrees that an audit of the operation of the advertising market on social media is necessary. The CMA has previously indicated that it is actively considering further work in this sector, depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations and work prioritisation.

However, the government has rejected the Committee’s proposals for a new category of tech company, an investigation into Facebook’s data privacy and anti-competition laws practices, a review of tech companies’ impact on democracy and a review of current legislation protecting the electoral process. It has also said that it does not intend for a new regulator to investigate individual complaints.

The government says that its response should also be read in conjunction with the Online Harms White Paper and that many of the committee’s recommendations are in line with and addressed in the paper.

The DCMS Committee is launching a sub-committee on disinformation and will continue to monitor developments.