Countries should set up agencies with the power to fine those facilitating spread of false information, Italy’s antitrust chief says.
EU countries should set up a network of independent agencies to tackle the spread of false information online, Giovanni Pitruzzella, Italy’s antitrust chief, told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday.
“Post-truth in politics is one of the drivers of populism and it is one of the threats to our democracies,” Pitruzzella said. “We have reached a fork in the road: we have to choose whether to leave the internet like it is, the wild west, or whether it needs rules that appreciate the way communication has changed. I think we need to set those rules and this is the role of the public sector.”
Pitruzzella argued tackling fake news should not be left up to social media companies, but instead be tackled by the state through independent authorities with the power to remove fake news and impose fines, coordinated by Brussels, similar to the way the EU regulates competition.
The antitrust chief said platforms “are doing their part” by modifying algorithms to reduce the spread of false news, “But it is not the job of a private entity to control information. This is historically the job of public powers. They have to guarantee that information is correct. We cannot delegate this completely.”
The tackling of fake news is on the agenda in Brussels and a number of EU countries.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this week called on social media firms to do more to help deal with the problem. Germany is planning a law to tackle fake news and hate speech on social media platforms and impose fines of up to €500,000 for sites that flout the rules. The Czech Republic announced earlier this week it would launch a center to monitor fake news in 2017.