Governments must regulate social networks: Facebook’s Clegg

Clegg later told an audience in Berlin that countries like China would not wait for the west to set standards for the Internet. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019

Governments must regulate social networks: Facebook’s Clegg

  • Clegg said there was a “pressing need” for new “rules of the road” on issues including data privacy and election rules

LONDON: Governments, not companies, must regulate social networks, Facebook’s head of global affairs and former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, said Monday.
“It’s not for private companies, however big or small, to come up with those rules. It is for democratic politicians in the democratic world to do so,” Clegg told the BBC in an interview.
Clegg, the former leader of British Liberal Democrats party, said there was a “pressing need” for new “rules of the road” on issues including data privacy and election rules.
At the same time, companies such as Facebook should play a “mature role” in advocating regulation, he told the BBC.
Clegg later told an audience in Berlin that countries like China would not wait for the west to set standards for the Internet.
“If we in Europe and America don’t turn off the white noise and begin to work together, we will sleepwalk into a new era where the Internet is no longer a universal space but a series of silos where different countries set their own rules and authoritarian regimes soak up their citizens’ data while restricting their freedom,” he said at the Hertie School of Governance.
“The fact is there is no longer a single unilateral Internet but rather two Internets: China and the rest of the world.”
Clegg said he was in Berlin for the last in a series of meetings with experts around the world about the creation of a Facebook “independent oversight board” that would make binding decisions about content issues such as reported hate speech.
He said the company expected to release a “final charter” for the oversight board this summer.
“But it would be a much easier task as well as a more democratically sound one if some of the decisions that we have to make were instead taken by people who are democratically accountable to the people at large rather than by a private company,” he said.
Britain has said it will make social media bosses personally liable for harmful content and shut down offending platforms under a “world-leading” government plan.
Coming in for heavy criticism over the past year, Facebook has instituted changes, particularly on privacy and the transparency of political campaign ads.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has called for “globally harmonized” online regulation.
Sceptics say Facebook is seeking to buy time amid calls for tougher regulation in the United States and elsewhere — with some calls to break up major tech firms and other activists questioning whether they should maintain immunity from liability for content posted by users.


Russian and Chinese investors in talks about Saudi Aramco IPO involvement

Updated 55 min 7 sec ago

Russian and Chinese investors in talks about Saudi Aramco IPO involvement

  • The initial public offering of the world’s biggest oil company is reaching a critical phase

RIYADH: Russian and Chinese investors are keen to get involved in the international element of the forthcoming initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, according to Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

Dmitriev told Arab News: “I would say that some Russian investors are interested. For the sovereign wealth fund (RDIF) to get invest in the Aramco IPO is still under discussion. We also have our Russia-China Investment Fund, and we have interest from Chinese investors to get involved in the Aramco IPO. We are still in discussion with our Chinese partners, and with our Russian investors.

“We are thinking what would be the different opportunities, given the interests of China and given the interest of some of the Russian investors. We will have to see how some of the details go, and nothing has been finalized, but there is definitely interest from some Russian and Chinese investors,” Dmitriev added.

The IPO of the world’s biggest oil company is reaching a critical phase, with some observers expecting the formal announcement of a listing on Tadawul just days away. Having a foreign sovereign investor, as well as a listing on a foreign stock exchange, could be a part of the later strategy to sell around 5 per cent of the state-owned company to private investors.

Dmitriev was speaking on the sidelines of the Saudi Russia CEO Forum in Riyadh, a meeting of top businessmen for both countries to coincide with the visit of President Putin.