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58 per cent of the British public believe that the tech sector is under-regulated, according to a new report looking into digital attitudes.

The Power, People & Technology: The 2020 Digital Attitudes report, published by Doteveryone, found that people are once again re-evaluating their relationship with technology. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the speed of technological change – with many having work meetings on Zoom, children learning virtually and socialising moved to video calls.

The research found that while the vast majority of people think the internet has improved their lives, there a many who are less convinced that it’s been good for society as a whole. 81 per cent agreed the internet has made life a lot of a little better for ‘people like me’, while 58 per cent said it has had a very or fairly positive impact on society overall. However, only half feel optimistic about how technology will affect their lives and society in the future.

The report also found that although people’s digital understanding has grown, that’s not helping them to shape their online experiences in line with their own wishes. People are taking a range of measures online that stem from their digital understanding – most people have checked ther privacy settings, looked for news outside their filter bubble or used an ad blocker but people tend to take these actions only occasionally.

47 per cent of those surveyed felt that they had no choice but to sign up to services despite concerns and 45 per cent feel there’s no point reading terms and conditions because companies will do what they want anyway.

Based on their 2018 research, Doteveryone ran a nationally representative survey just before the UK went into lockdown and focus groups shortly after it began, benchmarking the public’s appetite, understanding and tolerance towards the impacts of tech on their lives.

The report goes on to recommend an number of key ideas such as; the creation of an independent body, the Office of Responsible Technology; all tech companies to implement trustworthy, transparent design patterns that show how services work and give people meaningful control over how they operate; and all tech companies should create accessible and straightforward ways for people to report concerns.

Speaking about the findings, Martha Lane Fox, Executive Chair and Founder, Doteveryone, said, “Technology is a tool that can open new opportunities, that can enrich our lives and enable us to achieve new possibilities.”

“But it can only do that if it’s built and used in ways that are respectful of our values and expectations.”

“This research shows that all too oftern that’s not happening.”

“The public feels change is happening to them, not with them or for them.”

“At this critical moment, I urge decision makers in government, industry and civil society to listen carefully to how people understand and view the technology that shapes their day-to-day lives and what they want from it.”

“The practical recommendations set out in this report have been designed to ensure that technology works for more people more of the time.”

“The response to the pandemic is supercharging the speed of technological change.”

“This change must be driven by the interestes of people, communities and planet – not just the profit margins of tech companies.”