House of Lords calls for new Digital Authority to regulate tech giants

New authority would oversee regulation to “facilitate the urgent change that is needed”

The House of Lords has called for the establishment of a new Digital Authority to oversee regulation of tech companies.

The report, titled Regulating in a Digital world, released over the weekend. In it, the House of Lords Communications Committee recommended such an authority to "facilitate the urgent change that is needed" holding digital service providers accountable.

Speaking with the BBC, the Lords Communication Committee chairman Lord Gilbert of Panteg said he would like to see a new authority with the ability to issue fines to companies that broke the rules, equal to a percentage of their global turnover.

The report primarily relates to the "inadequate" response of tech firms like Google and Facebook regarding privacy, data breaches, and anti-social content.

However, several recommendations would directly impact game companies.

It was suggested that digital service providers -- including game operators -- should keep a record of playtime which should be easily accessible by the user, and there should be regular prompts discouraging excessive play.

"An industry standard on reasonable use should be developed to inform an understanding of what constitutes prolonged use," reads the report. "This standard should guide design so that services mitigate the risk of encouraging compulsive behaviour."

The report also includes ten guiding principles that "shape and frame all regulation of the internet."

These were: parity with offline services; holding individuals and organisation to account; transparency of businesses and organisations; an internet which remains open to innovation and competition; privacy to protect individuals; ethical design of services; protection of vulnerable users; respect for human rights to safeguard freedom of expression; education and awareness; and democratic accountability.

"Tech companies have a special responsibility, yet they have not done enough to reduce online harm," said Lord Gilbert. "Harmful, anti-social content -- available freely on many platforms -- is now greater than ever before."

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