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Technology revolution must benefit everyone, not just tech firms – Khan

Social media firms must aim to evolve regulations at the same rate as evolving technology, to benefit citizens and businesses.

By April Slattery

Social media giants are feeling the wrath of both the leaders from the technology industry and governing bodies alike, as Sadiq Khan joins the fighting force.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan raises his concerns over social media sites and how the technology revolution must be shaped to benefit everyone and not just tech companies or sites. Khan raised issues of how social media is impacting our lives and the well-being of society, including the growth of the STEM industry.

Earlier today the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee spoke up about the control social media sites have an how there needs to be more regulations in place to put this to a stop. Today, Khan is expected to echo this ethos in a speech at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Texas today.

Evolving London

One of the topics Khan will touch on is ensuring that the technology revolution betters the digital skills, STEM growth and better smart cities in the industry. It has been a long standing passion for Khan to build a city fit for STEM skills, ensuring that the technology world is an equal place for both girls and boys.

The Mayor of London believes the technology revolution must work to ensure more females are incorporated into the technology world, as well as enhancing STEM skills individuals hold. With the evolving world of technology, Khan wants to push this out to communities as well.

London Paves the way to evolving technology.

“We’re aiming to make London a global byword for smart cities – with data, connectivity and innovation supporting our infrastructure and services. We’re looking at London’s strengths in AI and automation, finding the best ways to take advantage of the opportunities it could bring whilst also investing in education to ensure Londoners have the digital skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow,” Khan said. “And – crucially – we’re breaking down the barriers that still exist for girls and women to reach their potential – not only in the tech sector, but in every part of our society.”

Khan hopes that London can lead by example in the technology industry of how the evolution of technology can be utilised within cities so everyone can reap the benefits.

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Another area Khan is expected to touch on how the evolving revolution of technology also calls for evolving regulation, to ensure individuals and communities are protected and in control. He blames politicians on the lack of regulation in place, slamming them to be ‘passive’ over the issues.

“One of the biggest problems over the last few years is that politicians and governments have just been passive – sitting on their hands – while the tech revolution has happened around them. 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,” Khan is expected to say. “There’s been a failure to ensure that our economies and our regulatory structures are prepared and relevant.  It must ultimately fall to government – working with tech businesses and leaders – to ensure that this revolution is not detrimental to our long-term progress.”

Tighter regulations must be put in place.

In order to overcome the issues Khan feels so strongly about, he believes there must be tighter regulations put in place to ensure social media companies are doing enough to protect users. The regulation’s that are in place at the minute are sorely out of date, which is contributing to the inherent amount of extremist and unwanted content on social media.

“Rather than blaming companies for innovating ahead of regulation, politicians must fix things when the regulation is out-of-date.  The question now for governments – or traditional sectors – should not be how we slow down innovation in its tracks – because we can’t.  And we shouldn’t.  It should be how we mitigate against the potentially negative impacts of disruption,” Khan said. “Our economies have always needed new regulations in place to meet the needs of workers and consumers when the environment changes.  Evolving economies must mean evolving regulation. And today is no different.”

London has demonstrated the need for better regulation, using Uber as an example, to better protect the community and economy. Now he believes that the responsibility lies with social media companies as well as the government, because despite being warned numerous times little has been done by the famous tech companies.

Social Media Efforts

The likes of Facebook, twitter and Google have said that they will hire more workers to invest in technology development and find ways to ensure content is kept updated and safe for users. However, Khan still believes there is more to be done, believing firms must ‘live up to their promises’.

“We simply must do more to protect people online. 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,” said Khan. “Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are finally starting to react to the criticisms and are developing technology to make sure the reporting process becomes quicker and more effective. I welcome this. But – with the skills and resources these companies have at their disposal – I believe it’s possible to go further and faster.”

Social media firms must do more to protect users.

The Mayor of London hopes that with better regulations in place, there will be more positive outcomes from the use of social media and bringing better inclusion within the technology community. Khan is not the first to slam social media companies, as the UK Government and Berners-Lee already have over control and content online.

Khan said: “Ultimately, there must be greater responsibility taken by some tech companies for the impact they’re having on the world. And, crucially, no business or industry should ever consider itself above the local rules, or laws set by democratic processes.”


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