Digital: the EU has finalized its legislation to combat abuse on the internet

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After months of negotiations, the European institutions have agreed on new legislation to better combat abuse of the internet.

New obligations will be imposed on “very large platforms”, the list of which has yet to be determined, but which Gafam, including Meta, will be a part of. (illustrative image)

AFP

EU Member States, the Commission and Parliament on Saturday finalized new legislation that will better tackle internet abuse, such as hate speech, disinformation campaigns or the sale of counterfeit products.

After several months of negotiations, an “agreement” has been reached between the European institutions on the Digital Services Act (“DSA”) that will oblige major platforms, such as Facebook (Meta) or Amazon, to better eradicate illegal and dangerous content online. , announced on Twitter the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, initiator of the project, with his colleague at Competition Margrethe Vestager.

“This agreement is historic,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen immediately welcomed, “our new rules will protect users online, safeguard freedom of expression and business opportunities.”

“World Premiere”

“The DSA is a world first in digital regulation,” said the Council of the EU, which represents the 27 member states, in a press release. The text “includes the principle that what is illegal offline must also be illegal online. It aims to protect the digital space from the dissemination of illegal content and to guarantee the protection of users’ fundamental rights”.

The Digital Services Regulation is one of two parts of a major plan presented by the European executive in December 2020. The first part, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which addresses anti-competitive practices, was completed at the end of March. The DSA, in turn, is updating the e-commerce directive, which was born 20 years ago when the giant platforms were still in their infancy.

Goal: To end the excesses of social networks that often made headlines: murder of history professor Samuel Paty in France after a hate campaign in October 2020, attack on protesters on the United States Capitol in January 2021, planned in part thanks to Facebook and Twitter…

dark side

The dark side of the internet also includes sales platforms that are inundated with counterfeit or defective products, which can be dangerous, such as children’s toys that do not meet safety standards.

The new regulation imposes an obligation to “immediately” remove illegal content (according to national and European law) as soon as a platform becomes aware of it. It forces social networks to suspend users who “often” break the law. The DSA requires online sales sites to verify the identity of their suppliers before offering their products.

At the heart of the project are new obligations imposed on “very large platforms”, those with “more than 45 million active users” in the EU, i.e. about twenty companies, the list of which has yet to be determined, but which Gafam ( (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), as well as Twitter, and probably TikTok, Zalando or Booking.

Increased transparency

These players must assess themselves the risks associated with using their services and deploy appropriate means to remove problematic content. They are being imposed more transparency on their data and recommendation algorithms.

They are audited once a year by independent bodies and placed under the supervision of the European Commission, which can impose fines of up to 6% of their annual turnover for repeated violations.

“In the context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the specific consequences for the manipulation of online information, a new article has been introduced to set up a response mechanism in the event of a crisis,” said the European Council. This mechanism, activated by a Commission decision, will make it possible to take “proportionate and effective” measures in relation to very large platforms that would contribute to the dissemination of false information.

AFP

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