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Law School advises House of Lords on Internet regulation

4th April 2019

A House of Lords Select Committee is using evidence provided by Northumbria Law School and the University of Cumbria to help shape policies to regulate the Internet.

In a newly published Parliamentary report entitled: Regulating the Digital World the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications cites evidence submitted by Northumbria and Cumbria 18 different times. Led by Dr Guido Noto La Diega from Northumbria and Ann Thanaraj from the University of Cumbria, academics made the submission following a call by the Select Committee for evidence on how regulation of the Internet should be improved, and whether online platforms have sufficient accountability and transparency. It also sought to explore if adequate processes are in place to moderate content effectively.

A collaborative response was prepared as part of The Northumbria Internet and Society Research Interest Group (NINSO) – a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University analysing the impact of the Internet and related technologies on society. Key themes highlighted by NINSO to be addressed by any reform included effective user education, the power imbalance between the platform and the user, as well as the insufficiency of an approach to compliance centred on long and opaque Terms & Conditions that nobody reads, let alone understands.

Dr Guido Noto La Diega, senior lecturer at Northumbria Law School and co-convenor of NINSO, said: “Regulating a technology like the Internet, which has such a multi-layered and prevalent influence on society, is a significant challenge. Our NINSO research group includes lawyers, economists, business scholars, social scientists, architects, computer scientists, engineers and students – so we can provide a genuine holistic approach to these difficulties and come up with clear recommendations. In this case, using our research, we were able to take an evidence-based approach and advise a response tailored appropriately to the size and resources of any online platform as well as the context of the situation. The House of Lords Select Committee, in recommending the ‘development of a comprehensive and holistic strategy for regulation’ has clearly taken these into consideration, which is extremely encouraging. We trust that this evidence-based and holistic approach will inform the Digital Authority, a new body whose creation has commendably recommended by the House of Lords.”

Professor John Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Business and Law, added: “To be cited no fewer than 18 times in this House of Lords report reflects the strength and depth of our research and the impact it can have on an issue that affect and resonate with the whole of society. It is a tremendous achievement that positions Northumbria as leading institution for research.”

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