A Commons report lays bare horrifying abuses. But the UK is no closer to regulating the far-too-powerful tech industry
Death threats, bullying, mental torture, privacy invasion, election rigging, fake news, monopoly abuse. As was said of a medieval pope, this is merely to suppress more serious charges. It is hard to recall the social media of 15 years ago, and its offer of universal love, democracy and global peace. Britain’s parliament has finally caught up, and today’s Commons report is at least unequivocal. A menace stalks the land and must be curbed.
Some of the report’s accusations are astonishing. Facebook “purposefully obstructed” the committee. Its boss Mark Zuckerberg, who “continues to choose profit over data security,” held parliament in contempt. His rambling empire is portrayed as lying, thieving “digital gangsterism”. Yet British electoral law is puny. It is “unfit for purpose,” leaving elections “vulnerable to foreign influence, disinformation and voter manipulation”. Not a week passes without evidence that cybersecurity is inadequate and public services left vulnerable to hacking.