Loot boxes in games are gambling and should be banned for kids, say UK MPs

UK MPs have called for the government to regulate the games industry’s use of loot boxes under current gambling legislation — urging a blanket ban on the sale of loot boxes to players who are children. Kids should instead be able to earn in-game credits to unlock look boxes, MPs have suggested in a recommendation that won’t be music to the games industry’s ears. Loot boxes refer to virtual items in games that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance. The MPs argue the mechanic should be considered games of chance played for money’s worth and regulated by the UK Gambling Act. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) parliamentary committee …

Brexit means clear your cookies for democracy

Brexit looks set to further sink the already battered reputation of tracking cookies after a Buzzfeed report yesterday revealed what appears to be a plan by the UK’s minority government to use official government websites to harvest personal data on UK citizens for targeting purposes. According to leaked government documents obtained by the news site, the prime minister has instructed government departments to share website usage data that’s collected via gov.uk websites with ministers on a cabinet committee tasked with preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. It’s not clear how linking up citizens use of essential government portals could further ‘no deal’ prep. Rather the suspicion is it’s a massive, consent-less voter data grab by party political forces preparing for …

US legislator, David Cicilline, joins international push to interrogate platform power

US legislator David Cicilline will be joining the next meeting of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, it has been announced. The meeting will be held in Dublin on November 7. Chair of the committee, the Irish Fine Gael politician The congressman — who is chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee — will attend as an “ex officio member” which will allow him to question witnesses, she added. Exactly who the witnesses in front of the grand committee will be is tbc. But the inclusion of a US legislator in the ranks of a non-US committee that’s been seeking answers about reining in online disinformation will certainly make any invitations …

UK to toughen telecoms security controls to shrink 5G risks

Amid ongoing concerns about security risks posed by the involvement of Chinese tech giant Huawei in 5G supply, the U.K. government has published a review of the telecoms supply chain, which concludes that policy and regulation in enforcing network security needs to be significantly strengthened to address concerns. However, it continues to hold off on setting an official position on whether to allow or ban Huawei from supplying the country’s next-gen networks — as the U.S. has been pressurizing its allies to do. Giving a statement in parliament this afternoon, the U.K.’s digital minister, Jeremy Wright, said the government is releasing the conclusions of the report ahead of a decision on Huawei so that domestic carriers can prepare for the …