Europe agrees to sweep new regulations for tech platforms

The proposed legislation, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA), marks the second landmark tech legislation to advance across Europe in a month. It aims to impose new rules on how the tech industry handles misinformation and illegal content on social media, as well as illegal goods and services in online marketplaces. The biggest companies that break the law could face billions in fines.

“Today’s agreement – which complements the political agreement on the Digital Markets Act last month – sends a strong signal: to all Europeans, to all EU businesses and to our international counterparts “said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The bill marks a potential turning point in technology regulation. It gives officials more tools to remove hate speech, prosecute e-commerce sellers who promote illegal products, and examine tech platforms’ recommendation algorithms, among other things. This applies not only to social media sites, but also to app stores, gig saving platforms, and even cloud services and ISPs.

The general legislation also includes additional requirements for what it calls “very large online platforms” with at least 45 million EU users. For these companies, the law would require content moderation risk assessments and independent audits related to their handling of illegal material, as well as content that may be legal but still threatens public health, human rights, or the environment. other priorities of public interest.

With the Digital Markets Act – a competition-focused bill designed to make dominant online platforms more open – the DSA highlights how Europe has moved aggressively to craft proactive regulations for Big Tech , edging out U.S. lawmakers who moved relatively slowly.

Saturday’s deal reflects hours of negotiations this week between the European Commission, EU member states and the European Parliament to harmonize different versions of the legislation. While the agreement reached on Saturday has yet to be entered into the final language and formally adopted, it could come into force within a few months.

As Europe poised to become a frontrunner in the space, proponents of greater tech regulation have suggested that EU rules could ultimately benefit consumers around the world, either when tech companies adjust their operations on a global scale for reasons of simplicity, or when the legislatures are inspired by European regulations. Strategies.

The DSA could serve as a “global gold standard” for other policymakers to follow, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told EU lawmakers last year. On Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the DSA and called on European officials to quickly finalize the bill, suggesting it could “strengthen global democracy”.

The tech industry, meanwhile, has actively lobbied the measure, in some cases warning of the risks the prescriptive requirements could pose to innovation.

The DSA deal comes Saturday after former President Barack Obama called on tech platforms to step up the fight against disinformation on their platforms, criticizing the companies’ opaque algorithms and what he described as encouraging financial incentives. recommending extreme or inflammatory content on the platforms.