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London mayor Sadiq Khan will criticise government and policy makers for failing to ensure technological progress benefits all. Photograph: Reuters

Sadiq Khan to slam government for ‘dereliction of duty’ in failing to regulate tech

Becoming first British politician to speak at SXSW tech conference in Texas, Khan will warn of abuse online and breakup of rights by sharing economy

WT24 Desk

The UK government is guilty of a “dereliction of duty” for leaving big technology firms unregulated, London mayor Sadiq Khan will warn, saying that no firm or industry is “above local rules”, The Guardian reports.

Speaking on Monday at the South by South West technology conference in Austin, Texas – the first British politician to do so – Khan will criticise politicians for failing to ensure technological progress benefits all, saying that regulation is clearly out of date.

Khan will slam governments for “sitting on their hands while the tech revolution has happened around them”, according to a preview of his speech.

“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 read out some of the racist, abusive and illegal tweets that he has received since becoming mayor, urging Facebook, Twitter and others, to do more to curb hate speech online or face stiff regulation.

Khan will also say that tech firms must take a greater responsibility for their impact on the world: “No business or industry should ever consider itself above the local rules, or laws set by democratic processes.”

He will say: “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. With the skills and resources these companies have at their disposal – I believe it’s possible to go further and faster.”

If Facebook, Twitter and other platforms do not embrace a “stronger duty of care” they will face tough new regulation such as Germany’s new laws that levy hefty fines for failure to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material fast enough, Khan will warn.

Using Uber as an example, Khan will also warn of the dangers of the sharing economy, which “risks being used as cover to break up decades of established and hard-fought rights”.

“We can’t confuse matters by thinking that because a business is smart, disruptive, popular even – and has a really neat app – it somehow has a right to have a different regulatory status to its competitors.”

Rather than criticising technology for jumping ahead of regulation or looking to slow down innovation, the onus is on government to “mitigate against the potentially negative impacts of disruption” and “harness the very same technologies to drive up standards”, Khan will say.

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