European Union legislators recently struck a consensus on the fundamentals of a key piece of legislation meant to mitigate the harmful effects of social media sites and other digital platforms.
The Digital Firms Act would, among other things, require digital platforms like Facebook to combat misinformation on their sites and state how their algorithms recommend material to consumers. The DSA would also bar some types of advertisements on the platforms, for instance, those directed at children or those based on the ethnicity or sexual orientation of individuals.
The legislation is the EU’s third important measure aimed at the tech industry, a striking contrast to the United States, where lobbyists supporting Silicon Valley’s interests have generally been successful in keeping federal politicians at bay.
While the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have brought significant antitrust proceedings against Google and Facebook, Congress remains ideologically divided on efforts to address competition, internet privacy, misinformation, and other issues.
The new EU regulations should hold digital firms more liable for user-generated information amplified by their platforms’ algorithms.
The largest internet platforms and search engines, defined as those with more than 45 million users, would be subject to further examination.
Message From European Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager
In a statement, European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that with the DSA, the European Union helps creating an online environment that is secure and accountable. According to the commissioner, platforms should be honest regarding their content moderation choices, prevent harmful misinformation from getting viral, and restrict the sale of risky items on marketplaces. With this agreement, the EU holds platforms accountable for the risks their services represent to society and citizens.
EU’s Efforts to Regulate Major Digital Platforms
The DSA is one of two cornerstones of a significant revamp of digital legislation that was revealed by the EU in December 2020. The Digital Markets Act, the second pillar, obtained preliminary approval last month and is intended to address concerns such as anticompetitive conduct. Both acts await a final vote, although significant modifications are not anticipated. The EU has also adopted the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which is intended to offer individuals greater control over the gathering and dissemination of their personal information.
Europe has long been at the forefront of attempts to rein in big tech, and the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act might impact efforts by governments throughout the world to address issues with major digital platforms. The United States is yet to pass any comprehensive laws to address these challenges.
According to a summary provided by the European Commission, digital platforms that are used by more than 10 percent of the EU’s populace would be subject to external audits on the efforts they’re doing to avoid misuse of their systems under the DSA. The bill would also require online marketplaces to assist in identifying sellers of illicit items, as well as establish methods for consumers to report unlawful goods, services, or material, and require platforms to engage with “trusted flaggers.”
Companies who violate the law might risk billions of dollars in fines as well as damage to their brands’ reputations. Major tech corporations have stated that they support the EU’s objectives, but that the details of the law are crucial.