UK: call for independent watchdog to tackle fake news

Commission calls for a permanent forum for reviewing platform self-regulation.

A report by the LSE Commission on Truth, Trust and Technology has said a new independent agency should be established to help tackle the information crisis and find policies to rebuild trust in online platform and the news media.

The Independent Platform Agency (IPA) would be a watchdog that evaluates the effectiveness of platform self-regulation and the development of quality journalism.  It would report to Parliament and offer policy advice. The Agency should be a permanent forum for monitoring and reviewing the behaviour of online platforms and provide annual reviews of the state of disinformation.

It would also help to support the traditional news industry to develop innovative ways to combat the information crisis.

The report calls on the Government to mobilise and coordinate an integrated, new programme in media literacy. This should focus on children in schools – for example, a compulsory media literacy module in citizenship classes – but also in on adults in further and vocational education.

Importantly too, the IPA would coordinate the development of targeted media literacy efforts to reach the wider public, most of whom are not in formal education, as well as providing informal training to politicians and policymakers.  

The report also recommends that Parliament urgently brings forward legislation to introduce a statutory code on political advertising as recommended by the Information Commissioner.

To protect freedom of expression, the report warns strongly against the establishment of a regulator that is formally linked to government or which aims to be an active regulator of 'truth'.