Digital regulation: MEPs adopt new EU rules – photo

New obligations and bans on digital giants to curb their abuse of power: The European Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a large EU regulation to end lawless zones on the internet. The new legislation was already the subject of an agreement in the spring among participating lawmakers and will still need to get final approval from member states next week.

Being a global leader, it can inspire other countries, including the United States. It consists of two texts submitted by the Commission in December 2020. On the one hand, the regulation of digital marketplaces (DMA) should stop the anti-competitive practices of Gafam, Google, Apple, Meta (Facebook), Amazon and Microsoft. On the other hand, there is Digital Services Regulation (DSA) which aims to regulate online content by forcing major platforms to respect laws and cooperate with regulators. The first was approved by 588 votes (11 against, 31 abstentions) and the second by 539 votes (54 against, 30 abstentions) during a vote of MEPs in plenary in Strasbourg. “There will be DSA and DMA before and after,” promised the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, initiating the texts with his fellow competition, Margrethe Vestager. “Many thought that regulation would take years or be impossible, too complicated, and the lobby is too powerful…” he said. “We have taken back control of technology. It is time,” rejoiced Danish MP Kristel Chaldemas (S&D, Social Democrats). But German Andreas Schwab (EPP, right), DMA rapporteur, cautioned that the success of the new rules would depend on the means given to the European executive, now vested with regulatory powers. He commented on Twitter that it was necessary “that the commission hire a sufficient number of staff.” This concern has been conveyed by Consumer Organizations (BEUC) and European Employers (Business Europe) who welcome the new legislation. In response, Thierry Breton announced the hiring of 100 full-time experts by 2024 and the creation of a high-level European Center for Algorithmic Transparency. DMA represents a change of philosophy in combating the abuse of large platforms.

After years of running in vain after their crimes in endless legal proceedings, Brussels wants to act upstream, by imposing rules on them to respect under penalty of deterrent fines. The goal: act before abusive behavior destroys competition. The legislation defines Brussels’ control over every acquisition of these giants, whatever the scale of the target. Google will be banned from showing favoritism towards its services in its search engine results, as it has been accused of doing so by online retail site Google Shopping. The new law will also prevent Amazon from using data generated on its sites by corporate customers to better compete with them.

Quick removal of illegal content

Part two, DSA, aims to put an end to the social networking abuses that often make headlines: the assassination of history professor Samuel Baty in France after a hate campaign in October 2020, and the assault on protesters at the United States Capitol. US in January 2021 planned in part thanks to Facebook and Twitter … The text also concerns sales platforms that have been overrun with fake or defective products, which can be dangerous, such as children’s toys that do not meet safety standards. The new regulation will require the prompt removal of any illegal content (according to national and European laws) once the platform becomes aware of it. It will force social networks to suspend users who “repeatedly” violate the law. DSA will require e-commerce sites to pre-verify the identity of their suppliers. It takes “very large platforms”, those with “more than 45 million active users” in the European Union, to assess the risks associated with using their services themselves and devise appropriate means to remove problematic content. Their algorithms will be increasingly transparent and will be reviewed once a year by independent bodies. The CCIA, a lobby group from tech giants, has warned that “the moment of truth for the DSA will be its implementation” by companies, questioning their ability to enforce “those complex rules”.

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