Europe regains control of the web giants

Europe regains control of the web giants

The DSA enters into force on August 25 in the European Union

On August 25, the Digital Services Act (DSA) comes into force. This regulation of social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, X (ex-Twitter) or TikTok, and online sales platforms, such as Amazon or Rakuten, implemented by the European Union, imposes content moderation obligations on the main digital services. Monitored from Brussels, they could face serious penalties if violated.

The DSAs aim to reduce the risks to society by imposing duties on the web giants that they will have to comply with “Duties of Means and Transparency”, carry out periodic risk assessments and propose measures to combat illegal or hateful content, attacks on electoral processes, freedom of expression, minors and their mental health. Sensitive areas such as targeted advertising or the fight against online manipulation will also be covered by the DSA. The European Commission will be able to impose fines of up to 6% of the platforms’ turnover, or even ban them in the EU.

Who is affected by DSA and why?

The minimum obligations will apply to all services, but the heaviest will be for those with more than 45 million users in the European Union. In the spring, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton formalized a list of 19 services, containing 17 “very large platforms” and two “very large search engines” subject to the DSA when it came into force. There are, for example, the main social networks and online sales sites, but also Google Maps, the App Store or Wikipedia. But these 19 big names won’t be the only ones to have to comply with the DSA.

150 experts will be employed to oversee its implementation with a budget of around 30 million euros, financed by a fee paid by the platforms. A way for Europe to exercise its sovereign power and regain control in the face of “private companies which, until now, have allowed themselves to suspend or withdraw contents in an opaque way and to authorize others, ignoring the law and only following their general conditions of use”explains MEP Geoffroy Didier (European People’s Party), in a forum at World.

An attack on freedom of expression?

This takeover by the EU has raised concerns, especially among key stakeholders, about the power granted to the Commission and the balance between regulation and freedom of expression. “The DSA would constitute a succession of penknife blows to freedom of expression”, writes Geoffroy Didier, evoking these doubts. A Defeating Argument: “The reality is quite different. The DSA will not create new illegalities, it will implement the law that already exists offline on the Internet. It will not threaten freedom of expression, it will protect it. »

DSA extension «it will protect citizens from the excesses of some platforms and guarantee more rights for internet users: decisions to withdraw content or delete accounts must be transparent, and anyone whose account is suspended or closed will have the legal capacity to challenge it»adds the MEP. “From now on, platforms will not only have to collaborate with justice, but also be accountable to their subscribers. Only a law on a European scale could achieve such a result”rejoices.

The affected platforms are updating

Little by little, the social networks and platforms concerned are updating their algorithms and terms of use. Nick Clegg, president in charge of public affairs of Meta, announced it in a blog post “On Facebook and Instagram, users will have the ability to see only stories and reels posted by the people they follow, from newest to oldest. They’ll also be able to see search results based solely on the words they’ve used, rather than personalized results based on their past activities and interests.”.

The DSA specifically requires platforms to allow their users to opt out of personalized content recommendations. TikTok has done the same, with the ability to choose content display based on geography rather than algorithmic selection. In addition to the deactivation of the recommendations, also announced by Snapchat, the Chinese company ByteDance has also added further protections for minors and new ways to report illegal content to its application. A moderation “advertising transparency center” has been set up for Google and its services concerned, which allows users in particular to report problematic content. And in Meta we say: “More than 1000 people are currently working at DSA. » Proof that Europe has decided to take back control.

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