Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 06/12/18

Solihull Observer.

Last week, I joined representatives from all around the world to take part in the first-ever International Committee (IGC) on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’.

This landmark event brought together 24 lawmakers from nine countries – Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, and the UK – to discuss issues such as data protection, propaganda, and the spread of ‘fake news’.

Together, we signed the ‘International Principles for the Law Governing the Internet’, and took an important step towards holding the social media giants accountable and restoring the rule of law to the internet.

In my role as a member of the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, I have seen first-hand the huge and growing role that online media is playing in our democracy. During our investigation into Cambridge Analytica I made headlines around the world when I accused Facebook of curating a “morality-free zone” where unscrupulous companies could influence millions of voters.

Unfortunately Mark Zuckerburg, the CEO of Facebook, did not have the courage to appear before the Grand Committee – but that won’t prevent legislatures around the world from taking firm action to protect individual internet users and our democracy.

I believe very strongly that the big social media companies must be made to recognise that they are not above the law. Their apps and websites may transcend borders – and a good thing too, in many cases – but that doesn’t mean that the people profiting from them have some sort of immunity from being held to account.

As we have seen in the effort to crack down on tax evasion, international cooperation is very often the key to tackling global challenges such as these. I hope that the IGC, and the International Principles we established, will lay the foundations for a comprehensive and effective system for regulating online media and combatting the corrosive effects of ‘fake news’ on our institutions and civic culture.

Originally published in the Solihull Observer, 25/10/18.