By Foo Yun Chee
The European Union should strengthen a voluntary commitment, to which Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. of Alphabet Inc. have committed to fighting false information, with sanctions to make it a more effective tool, a study for the European Commission.
The three tech giants of the United States, along with Mozilla and commercial organizations representing the advertising industry, agreed in October 2018 on a self-regulating code of conduct to fight against disinformation in order to stave off binding legislation.
The EU executive has acknowledged companies’ efforts through regular reports, but has also urged them to do more. Last year, it commissioned a study to examine the issue.
The study said the code should continue to serve as the basis for further action, but noted some gaps.
Among these are the self-regulatory nature of the code, the lack of uniformity of implementation and the lack of clarity around its scope and some of the key concepts, according to the study conducted by the consulting firm Valdani , Vicari and Associates (VVA).
He recommended giving the code a bit of bite to ensure compliance.
“The European Commission should examine proposals for co-regulation within which appropriate enforcement, sanctions and redress mechanisms should be put in place,” the study said.
Technology lobby group EDiMA said the code should not be dropped.
“The results of the code of practice have shown that it is an effective way to combat the spread of online misinformation and fake news,” said executive director Siada El Ramly.
(Report by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Edition by Matthew Lewis)