With the new law of the European Union, it seems that the responsibilities of companies such as Google and Meta in the European market will increase even more. Accordingly, it is stated that the digital world will be reshaped with the new legislation called Digital Services Law.
The European Union (EU) enacted the Digital Markets Law (DMA) in March, and it was stated that with this new regulation, technology companies had to go through some changes and their competition in the European market would become fairer. Now, it has been reported that the EU has agreed on new legislation that will push digital companies even more to control the online world.
After hours of deliberation, earlier this morning, the terms of the Digital Services Act (DSA) were agreed upon, which will force tech companies to take greater responsibility for the content on their platforms. It was stated that the law will apply to all companies in the European market on 1 January 2024.
What was illegal offline will now be considered illegal online
The new regulation includes obligations such as faster removal of illegal content and products, explaining to users and researchers how their algorithms work, and taking stricter measures against the spread of false information. However, companies will be fined up to six percent of their annual turnover if they do not comply with the provisions of the law.
“The DSA will update the ground rules for all online services in the EU,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in a statement on the matter. “The law gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline must be illegal online. The larger the size, the greater the responsibilities of online platforms” he adds. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who leads much of the technical regulation, says the law will “ensure that platforms are held accountable for the risks their services may pose to society and citizens.”
However, both DMA and DSA impact the world of technology; however, while DMA focuses on creating a level playing field between businesses, DSA is concerned with how companies control the content on their platforms. For this reason, it is stated that DSA will have a faster impact on internet users. On the other hand, although the legislation only applies to EU citizens, it is predicted that the impact of these laws will certainly be felt in other parts of the world.
Big companies will also have greater responsibilities
The final text of the DSA has not yet been published, but the obligations of DSA by the European Parliament and the European Commission are detailed as follows:
- Targeted ads based on a person’s religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity are prohibited. Individuals under the age of 18 may also not be the subject of targeted advertisements.
- “Dark patterns”, which are confusing or deceptive user interfaces designed to trick users into making certain choices, will be banned. The EU says, as a rule, canceling subscriptions should be as easy as signing up for them.
- Major online platforms like Facebook will have to make the work of their recommendation algorithms (for example, used to rank content in News Feed or recommend TV shows on Netflix) transparent to users. Users should also be offered a “non-profiling” recommendation system. In the case of Instagram, for example, this means a chronological feed.
- Hosting services and online platforms should clearly explain why they are removing illegal content and provide users with the ability to object to such takedowns. DSA does not define what content is illegal and leaves that to individual countries.
- The largest online platforms will have to provide important data to researchers “to provide more insight into how online risks evolve.”
- Online marketplaces should keep basic information about merchants on their platforms to track people selling illegal goods or services.
- Major platforms will also have to offer new strategies to deal with misinformation during crises.
However, DSA, like DMA, will differentiate between technology companies of different sizes and impose greater obligations on larger companies. This means that the largest companies with at least 45 million users in the EU, such as Meta and Google, will face the most scrutiny.
While these provisions of the DSA have now been adopted by EU member states, the legal language still needs to be finalized and the law formally voted into law. The rules will apply to all companies from 1 January 2024, 15 months after the law was voted on.