The committee investigating Fake news on all social media and its impact on British politics has expressed its disappointment at how seriously the UK Government have taken its recommendations.
The Digital Culture Media and Sports Committee submitted a report in July where it warned the government it faced a democratic crisis based on the manipulation of personal data.
42 recommendations were tabled in its interim report but only 3 have been accepted by the government, and only as recently as last week.
The committee chairman, Damian Collins, accuses the ministers of making excuses to ‘further delay desperately needed announcements on the ongoing issues of harmful and misleading content being spread through social media.’
The committee is pushing for the UK government to act more decisively against Russia and other foreign powers that operate in the business of disinformation and fake news peddling in social media. More so in the face of recent Facebook hacks leading to millions of personal data exposed. Complaints from other western democracies of attempts to manipulate public opinion through the sinister use of fake news and disinformation on social media have also been rife.
Ministers have called for the committee to show patience as it awaits the outcome of other reports and a consultation on improved powers for the Electoral Commission to regulate Digital advertising during elections.
Some of their recommendations
- Improved powers for the Electoral Commission to regulate digital advertising during election periods including powers to give bigger fines on defaulters
- A levy on social media firms to fund digital literacy education and tighter limits on political donations
- An imprint on political adverts during election seasons so people know who paid for an advert introducing transparency
The government says it is working to implement the pressing recommendations it has acquiesced to.
More Progress from Government needed
Mr. Collins also criticised the government’s continued insistence that there was no evidence of Russian interference in UK elections, despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s warnings about the ‘weaponisation’ of ‘fake news’ to disrupt votes in other Western nations.
The government insisted it was not being ‘complacent’ and would take action against ‘hostile state activity’ where appropriate.
But Mr. Collins said: ‘We need to see a more co-ordinated approach across government to combat campaigns of disinformation being organised by Russian agencies seeking to disrupt and undermine our democracy.’
Both parties agree the campaign of disinformation is a danger to be tackled hard and early.