London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has called for greater regulation of technology firms and social media channels.
Kahn has laid down the gauntlet of responsibility at the feet of tech firms such as Twitter and Facebook and urged them to tighten up on racist, abusive and illegal content. If, however, the tech firms do not respond, then Kahn has urged the government to clamp down and introduce its own regulations, similar to those imposed in Germany.
Addressing the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, Texas, Khan read out a list of abusive tweets that he had been personally subjected to, including racial slurs and death threats. He argued that this type of un-regulated behaviour would discourage future generations of black and Asian minorities from entering into politics.
He said technology companies must take a greater responsibility for the content that is put out by their users: “No business or industry should ever consider itself above the local rules, or laws set by democratic processes. Social media platforms already have a legal obligation to remove content that breaks local laws. But this is not always happening, or happening quickly enough. With the skills and resources these companies have at their disposal – I believe it’s possible to go further and faster.”
However, Kahn’s criticism was not reserved for the tech firms. He also slammed the government for ‘sitting on their hands while the tech revolution has happened around them’. He continued: “There’s been a dereliction of duty on the part of politicians and policymakers to ensure that the rapid growth in technology is utilised and steered in a direction that benefits us all.”