House of Lords call for a new body to regulate the digital world

By March 13, 2019 Press Releases

The House of Lords has called on the Government to establish a new Digital Authority to oversee the regulation of tech companies.

A report titled ‘Regulating in the digital world’ highlights the urgent need to address the fragmented nature of current regulation that exists over the UK’s digital environment. Issues such as the misuse of personal data, inadequacies over mediating abuse and hateful speech, and market concentration, are highlighted as arguments in favour of further regulation.

In response to their findings, the Select Committee on Communications has recommended establishing a Digital Authority who would have ‘the remit to continually assess regulation in the digital world and make recommendations on where additional powers are necessary to fill gaps.’

In addition to establishing a Digital Authority, the report recommends there should be an agreed set of ten principles that shape and frame all regulation of the internet. Their suggested principles include:

  • Parity: the same level of protection must be provided online as offline
  • Accountability: processes must be in place to ensure individuals and organisations are held to account for their actions and policies
  • Transparency: powerful businesses and organisations operating in the digital world must be open to scrutiny
  • Openness: the internet must remain open to innovation and competition
  • Privacy: to protect the privacy of individuals
  • Ethical design: services must act in the interests of users and society
  • Recognition of childhood: to protect the most vulnerable users of the internet
  • Respect for human rights and equality: to safeguard the freedoms of expression and information online
  • Education and awareness-raising: to enable people to navigate the digital world safely
  • Democratic accountability, proportionality and evidence-based approach.

The Committee also recommends that online services which host user-generated content should be subject to a statutory duty of care and that Ofcom should have responsibility for enforcing this duty of care, particularly in respect of children and the vulnerable in society.

The Government is expected, through its Internet Safety Strategy, to propose legislation intended to help make the UK ‘the safest place in the world to be online’.

What does this mean for the video games industry?

The report contains several recommendations that would impact the video games industry.

‘Digital service providers (such as hardware manufacturers, operators of digital platforms, including social media platforms and entertainment platforms, and games developers) should keep a record of time spent using their service which may be easily accessed and reviewed by users, with periodic reminders of prolonged or extended use through pop-up notices or similar. An industry standard on reasonable use should be developed to inform an understanding of what constitutes prolonged use. This standard should guide design so that services mitigate the risk of encouraging compulsive behaviour.’

The full report can be found here.


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