Sky’s Jeremy Darroch Calls for Stronger U.K. Regulation of Silicon Valley Players

Tim Dams

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Sky group chief executive Jeremy Darroch has called on the U.K. government to create a powerful new regulator to oversee Silicon Valley online platforms.

Writing in The Times newspaper today, Darroch said that the technology giants cannot be trusted to hold themselves to account. “The promise of self-regulation hasn’t worked,” Darroch said.

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“We need only look back to the prolific spread of misinformation, online abuse and fake news in last month’s [U.K.] general election to see the damage that unregulated online platforms are doing to our society.”

The Sky boss said that technology owned, developed and run by a handful of online platforms in Silicon Valley dominates people’s lives “on an unstoppable scale.”

While acknowledging the benefits that technology has brought to society, he added that it has also led to online harms such as scams, theft, extremism, violent content and racism.

“Yet, amazingly, 20 years after they emerged, there are virtually no laws governing the behaviour of these companies in Britain, across Europe or around the world.”

Unlike social media platforms, Darroch pointed out that broadcasters and internet service providers are subject to regulatory frameworks that set standards and prevent harm to consumers and society.

He called for the government to address the issue as a matter of urgency. He said that Sky has written to British MPs today to ask them for their support in establishing an independent regulator that will tackle online harms.

“Politicians need to set the strategic direction while leaving the oversight of online platforms to an independent, trusted and evidence-based body.”

Sky has been lobbying for the U.K. government to regulate online platforms for several years, hoping to level what it sees as an unfair playing field between broadcasters and tech firms. Two years ago, Sky commissioned a report into platform accountability and online harms, which proposed a framework with an independent regulator at its heart.

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