This week former journalist Dame Frances Cairncross published her review into the future of UK journalism which takes an in-depth look at the competitive landscape for news publishers and online platforms, the state of digital marketing as well as the accountability of online sites in delivering reliable news to readers. 50% of UK adults worry about fake news according to the report which also highlights various factors impacting the quality of news, such as information overload in the digital age, algorithm-based news ranking on sites and clickbait news to drive digital advertising revenues. The Review advises ‘public intervention’ such as establishing an Institute for Public Interest News to help ensure the sustainability of public interest news as well as greater regulation for online platforms such as Facebook and Google.
The independent Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG) will now be examining the large sets of data collected by the Home Office to ensure the “legitimate and proportionate” use of peoples’ information, as stated by the group’s Chairman Chris Hughes OBE. The Home Office holds a wide range of data and with innovations in technology there are more ways to harness its potential, and the Data Ethics Governance Framework was established in an effort to the ensure honest and objective use of data to better public services. The BFEG will now oversee the Framework. Chris Hughes speaking on the partnership said that ethical consideration is critical now given the, “ever increasing volumes of data and the implementation of new data protection legislation”.
Last month reports surfaced that Facebook would be combining its WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger services to allow users to communicate seamlessly across apps from one platform. Now the German watchdog Bundeskartellamt (FCO) has banned the social media giant from, “combining user data from different sources”. The FCO has been investigating Facebook for the past three years over for its alleged market monopoly in Germany. At the heart of the watchdog’s complaint lie concerns that Facebook exploits user data by collating information from across its third-party services such as Instagram. This data then gives Facebook a highly segmented profile of its users. Facebook has contested the FCO ruling stating that they, “misinterpret our compliance with GDPR and undermines the mechanisms European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU.”