U.K. lawmakers scold Facebook, call for increased social-media regulation

U.K. lawmakers scold Facebook, call for increased social-media regulation

Parliamentary committee urges code of ethics for tech firms

LONDON — A U.K. parliamentary committee rebuked Facebook Inc. in a new report that calls for regulation and intensified scrutiny of social-media companies.

The report urged a compulsory code of ethics for technology companies to deal with harmful or illegal content on their sites. It also called for the creation of an independent regulator that has the power to launch legal action against companies in breach of the code that could result in hefty fines.

Large sections of the report were devoted to criticism of Facebook FB, -0.88% , which it said had intentionally and knowingly violated both privacy and anticompetition laws in how it handled user data and tried to stifle competitors. The report expands on earlier recommendations from the committee published in July and follows a monthslong inquiry into tech companies and issues of privacy, misinformation and the power of their platforms in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The committee recommended laws governing privacy, data protection, antitrust and competition should be used to rein in companies. “The big tech companies must not be allowed to expand exponentially, without constraint or proper regulatory oversight,” it said. “If companies become monopolies they can be broken up, in whatever sector,” the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said in its final report on disinformation and “fake news.”

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