Produced and edited by James Sandy; graphics and animation by Russell Birkett; filmed by James Sandy, Joe Sinclair and Tom Hannen
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How can tech companies be held accountable?
So this is the million dollar question on everybody's minds right now. There are no real rules about how any of these companies can operate on the internet. No rules about how they can collect data, what they can do with that data, who they can share that data with. The status quo has been that tech companies just mark their own homework, basically.
And quite clearly, they haven't done a good enough job, to judge by the backlash that we've been hearing in recent months and years. So I think the answer is, quite clearly, governments need to get involved. And governments are getting involved. On both sides of the Atlantic and in Asia we're now seeing movement on a number of fronts.
GDPR is new European regulations that came into force last year, that require companies to get consent from their users as to how they handle their data, and also to inform the local regulator when there was a data breach.
Interestingly, only a year after those rules were adopted there's now talk in the US of something very similar being put in place. So the world is moving on very quickly in terms of regulating how companies use data, and how our privacy is protected.
But the other area is around platform safety. So this is about guarding against sort of abuse, terrorism, hate speech, the spread of misinformation, false news on the platform.
And different countries are exploring different ways to do this. So in the UK, we've had the Online Harms Paper. And we're proposing that you have a regulatory body that will actually look at what these negative outcomes are. And then question the executives of these tech companies, and put on them a duty of care.
It's effectively said, look, we're going to have a regulator that lays out standards. You, as companies, will have to meet those for all types of content you carry. And if you don't, we're going to take action. And we might even block your website. So it will always be a combination. But it definitely needs government standing at the back there, to make it happen.