Responding to the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee’s final report on disinformation and “fake news”, Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “PR and Communications is an industry rightly concerned with disinformation and ‘fake news’: our commitment to deal fairly and honestly underpins everything that we do.
“As the Government said in the wake of the Bell Pottinger case: ‘the UK has a world-leading system of professional standards and industry-specific codes of conduct, which we encourage British companies to uphold in their operations domestically and overseas. Our industry bodies and regulators ensure compliance.’ In the same manner, the Select Committee is right to state that organisations should be held accountable wherever in the world they are operating. It is not good enough to pretend that ethical professionalism ceases to exist when we cross borders; it is not good enough to pretend that any practitioner is above public accountability.
“The Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee’s report is a reminder of the importance of self-regulation. SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica bear no relation to the ethical and professional PR and communications industry that politicians and the public regularly engage with.
“The gap between the self-regulated industry and those who sit outside of regulation is plain for all to see. There is a clear thread that runs through all of this: work with those accountable to the highest standards.”Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA
Following an 18 month inquiry, the final report by the committee follows the interim report published in 2018 and recommends a mandatory Code of Ethics for social media companies to be enforced by an independent regulator. The CIPR also responded:
Public relations professionals should be front and centre of efforts to promote truth and denounce dishonest information. Fake news and disinformation have far-reaching consequences for our industry and wider society. We should be bold in our condemnation in these tactics. We welcome the recommendations in this report and urge the government to address the issues in its forthcoming White Paper on the issue.CIPR President, Emma Leech Found.Chart.PR FCIPR
The report also calls for an overhaul of electoral law which is “unfit for purpose” and fails to reflect changes in campaigning techniques including advertising and political campaigning.