10 Principles Suggested To Revolutionise Archaic Digital Regulations

A recent report, completed by the Communications Committee in the House of Lords, has claimed that the use of and reliance on digital technology has moved at a swifter pace than the regulations monitoring business and individual safety.

‘Regulating in a Digital World’ recommends that a main regulatory body is needed to knit together the dozens of UK regulatory bodies currently monitoring internet laws and safety with the aim of reducing fragmentation and creating more consistency in the online world.

It is hoped that the digital authority will play an important role in ensuring the public, and Parliament are offered up to date information as well as enforcing a new set of regulated principles that will create a more ethical, transparent and fair user experience.

The report stresses that outdated laws are unfit for the complexity of the digital world in 2019. A new set of laws have been proposed and presented as the ’10 principles for regulation’. These laws will look to improve business accountability and transparency; especially with how the major corporations gather, store and use personal data.

Additionally, the report highlights the ways major corporations use algorithms to gather user data and subsequently market and advertise based on the data they have accrued. Customers should be aware of how business algorithms are used and the ways they manipulate the information that is presented to the individual user. To accommodate this request, an annual data transparency statement should be provided on the behavioural data a company generates or purchases from third parties as well as how they are stored, used and transferred.

Greater intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to complete impact-based audits, to assess potential risks associated with using algorithms and ensure the ethical use of technology that will avoid the exploitation or unfair treatment of the user, was also suggested.

Lord Gilbert of Penteg, chairman of the Communications Committee, said: “The Government should not just be responding to news headlines but looking ahead so that the services that constitute the digital world can be held accountable to an agreed set of principles.

“Self-regulation by online platforms is clearly failing. The current regulatory framework is out of date. The evidence we heard made a compelling and urgent case for a new approach to regulation. Without intervention, the largest tech companies are likely to gain ever more control of technologies which extract personal data and make decisions affecting people’s lives.

“Our proposals will ensure that rights are protected online as they are offline while keeping the internet open to innovation and creativity, with a new culture of ethical behaviour embedded in the design of service.”

Concerning data protection, the ‘Regulating in a Digital World’ report, said: “As organisations, including financial and health services providers, increasingly perceive individuals as the aggregation of data gathered about them (sometimes called their ‘data selves’), it is essential that data be accurate, up-to-date and processed fairly and lawfully, especially when processed by algorithm. While the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 provide valuable safeguards, including subject access rights to ensure that data are accurate and up to date and the right to opt out from purely automated processing, there are weaknesses in the regime. For example, a subject access request does not give subjects automatic access to behavioural data generated about them because it is deemed to be the property of the company that acquired it.

“Users of internet services should have the right to receive a processing transparency report on request. In a model similar to a subject access report under the GDPR users should have the right to request a data transparency report from data controllers showing not only what data they hold on the data subject (which is the currently the case under the GDPR) but also what data they generate on them (behavioural data) and any behavioural data obtained from third parties, including details of when and how they are obtained.

“Data controllers and data processors should be required to publish an annual data transparency statement detailing which forms of behavioural data they generate or purchase from third parties, how they are stored and for how long, and how they are used and transferred.”

Find the full report here.

Will these changes lead to a more ethical use of technology? Does more need to be done to prevent the exploitation of a technology user?

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