Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission, presented a series of new digital rules for the bloc at the end of 2020, comparing it to the first traffic lights bringing order to American streets. On Saturday, April 23, she introduced digital traffic lights of the 21st century in a video message on Twitter. EU Council negotiators, representing the bloc’s 27 members, along with the European Parliament have reached an agreement on new legislation, the Digital Services Act (DSA).
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) April 23, 2022
The law should enforce what Vestager obviously insisted: what’s illegal offline should also be illegal online. Hate speech, fake news, terrorist propaganda, as well as the sale of counterfeit products, are just a few examples of why many refer to the internet as the “Digital Wild West”. Thierry Breton, the commissioner responsible for the bloc’s Internet market, called it that. With this act, the EU hopes to pressure big tech like Google and Facebook more to remove content that appears to be illegal.
Now users will have the option to mark harmful or illegal content. Once in force by 2024, DSA would force tech giants to remove illegal content faster. However, critics have expressed concerns that the EU is not setting clear limits for withdrawal. Previously, digital activists complained that pressuring sites to remove such content at short notice could threaten free speech.
“A rule that’s too strict could cause problems,” said digital policy researcher Scott Marcus at the start, when there could be a large number of requests.
Online shopping platforms like Amazon should monitor counterfeit products being sold on their platform. To ensure that they are fewer, they must carry out detailed verifications of the information provided by merchants. Additionally, DSA would ban “dark patterns”, which means that platforms would not be allowed to show one option more prominently than another. Additionally, the EU would ban personalized ads targeting minors, while limiting the use of sensitive personal data by advertisers.
Basically, the DSA would force big tech platforms to make their use of algorithms more transparent than before. Facebook, Twitter and other networks use algorithms to provide users with content relevant to what they were doing.
Tech giants with more than 45 million users in the EU, such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, would have stricter obligations. Violating any of these rules could result in fines of up to 6% of the company’s total worldwide revenue.