The EU has agreed on new rules to combat illegal content

Executive Vice President of Europe Margrethe Westager.

Anadolu Agency Anadolu Agency Getty Images

The European Union on Saturday agreed on new digital rules that will force technology giants such as Google and Meta to more aggressively control illegal content on their platforms, otherwise threatening possible multibillion-dollar fines.

The European Parliament and EU member states have reached an agreement on the Digital Services Act, a landmark piece of legislation aimed at combating illegal and harmful content by providing platforms for its rapid removal.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a statement calling the law “historic”.

“DSA will update the basic rules for all Internet services in the EU,” said von der Leyen. “This ensures that the online environment remains a safe place, guaranteeing freedom of expression and opportunities for digital business. This gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline should be illegal online. The larger the size, the greater responsibility of online platforms ”.

A key piece of legislation will restrict how digital giants target users through online advertising. DSA will effectively stop platforms from targeting users using algorithms that use data based on their gender, race or religion. It will also be forbidden to target advertising to children.

So-called dark patterns, deceptive tactics designed to push people to certain goods and services, will also be banned.

Technical companies will have to introduce new procedures aimed at removing illegal materials such as hate speech, incitement to terrorism and sexual abuse of children. E-commerce markets, such as Amazon, should also prevent the sale of illegal goods under the new rules.

Failure to comply with the rules could result in fines of up to 6% of the company’s global annual revenue. For a company like Meta, Facebook’s parent company, that could mean a $ 7 billion fine based on 2021 sales figures.

The DSA is separate from the Digital Markets Act, which EU institutions passed last month. Both come with the threat of considerable fines. But while the DMA seeks to curb the market power of large technology firms, the DSA seeks to ensure that platforms quickly get rid of toxic content.

The law will affect user-created content sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.

Brussels has a long history of harassing internet giants for competition abuse and data privacy.

The bloc has fined Google 8.2 billion euros ($ 8.8 billion) in fines for antitrust violations and is actively investigating Amazon, Apple and Meta.

In 2018, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation, a broad set of privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over their information.

This is happening when politicians in Washington are struggling with the question of how to curb the power of big technology companies and force them to clean their platforms of harmful content. On Thursday, former President Barack Obama said the technology industry needs regulation to combat the spread of misinformation online.

“For too long, technology platforms have fueled misinformation and extremism without responsibility,” wrote former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday.

“I urge our transatlantic allies to push the Digital Services Act through the finish line and strengthen global democracy before it is too late.”

But how the EU manages to put its new rules into practice is unclear. Critics say the implementation of such measures will create a technical burden and raise questions about whether online speech is acceptable or not.

In the UK, new laws aimed at combating unsafe content have been severely criticized by some in the technology industry – not least the Big Tech platforms – for vague descriptions of material that is “legal but harmful”.

Opponents argue that this could severely restrict freedom of expression online. For its part, the British government has said it will not demand the removal of legitimate freedom of expression and that “democratically important” content will be protected.

The EU has agreed on new rules to combat illegal content

Source link The EU has agreed on new rules to combat illegal content

Back to top button