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Lords inquiry into online platforms hears from data experts


How key is data to the success of online platforms such as Amazon, Google and Facebook? Should they show more openness about how they use it? Do consumers need to be more aware of the risks of sharing data?

Next week, Monday 19 October, a Lords Committee investigating online platforms will explore issues around data use, and hear from experts in the field of data and advertising.

The Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee will look closely at issues such as how public data is amassed and utilised, whether regulation on data use is holding the platforms back, and also how much awareness the public has of the pitfalls of relinquishing personal information.

The witnesses are Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery, Information Commission's Office, Steve Chester, Director of Data, Internet Advertising Bureau, and Des Higham, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Career Fellow in Data Analytics/Internet of Things.

Questions which the witnesses are likely to face include:

  • What do online platforms do with the data they collect? Is data gathering all geared towards attracting advertising revenue?
  • Is public understanding of this process adequate?
  • Should users take more control of data use?
  • Do the SMEs and suppliers that use online platforms have access to their transactional data?
  • Given the exponential growth of data on the internet, is regulatory oversight of how platforms collect and use data sufficient?
  • Are regulations holding online platforms back?
  • What algorithms are being used to turn large amounts of personal data into useful information for online platforms?
  • Should platforms be more accountable for the inferences of their algorithms?

The evidence sessions will take place from 4.15pm, on Monday 19 October in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

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