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Facebook: We agree it’s past time for Congress to set clear and fair rules

Nick Clegg Special to USA TODAY Much has been said about Facebook recently, but there’s one thing we agree on: Congress should pass new internet regulations.

We’ve been advocating for new rules for several years. For too long, many important issues have been left to private companies to decide.

But while new internet rules are being written in Europe, India, Australia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the U.S. tech regulation efforts have stalled. Here are some areas where Congress could act:

We’ve argued for creating a new digital regulatory agency to navigate competing trade-offs in the digital space – much like the Federal Communications Commission oversees telecoms and media.

We’ve proposed ways to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, including requiring platforms to be more transparent about how they remove harmful and illegal content – and requiring large companies like Facebook to demonstrate they comply with best practices for countering illegal content to earn the law’s protections.

We support efforts to bring greater transparency to algorithmic systems, offer people more control over their experience and require audits of platforms’ content moderation systems – which, of course, include algorithms. We also support standards-setting processes that tackle questions like how to measure 'bias' in an algorithm that – once established – could be required across the industry.

We agree that Congress should act to make rules clarifying how platforms can or should share data with university-affiliated researchers for research purposes, potentially through a new Federal Trade Commission division.

We’ve called for Congress to do more to protect against influence operations, by creating deterrence no industry effort can match. Congress could act now to mandate platform transparency, enable lawful information sharing, and impose liability directly on the people and organizations behind malicious influence operations.

And Congress can break the deadlock on federal privacy legislation. The United States is watching from the sidelines as others write the global playbook on privacy. A comprehensive federal privacy law could enshrine consumers’ rights and enhance corporate accountability. We also need data portability legislation giving people the ability to take their data to other services while protecting privacy.

It’s long past time for Congress to set clear and fair rules. That’s how we’ll make the internet safer, while also ensuring that creativity and competition continue to thrive online.

Nick Clegg is vice president of global affairs at Facebook, a former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom and a former member of the European Parliament.

A protest sign outside the U.S. Capitol depicting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surfing on a wave of cash on Sept. 30. Eric Kayne/AP Images for SumofUS

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