There are no more deadlines. No excuses. The new Digital Services Law (DSA) of the European Union comes into full force as of this Friday for the 19 largest large digital platforms operating in European territory, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or X (formerly Twitter), but also for intermediary commercial giants such as Amazon, Zalando or AliExpress. If they want to avoid costly fines, all of them must strictly comply with a series of measures that seek to better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online, fighting against illegal content, as well as providing more transparency and guaranteeing a “single and uniform market in EU”.
“Child pornography, cyberbullying and riots across the planet have demonstrated the role that powerful but unregulated digital spaces can play in our lives,” recalls Internal Market Commissioner and DSA main backer Thierry Breton. “Instead of relying on the goodwill of the platforms or a clever interpretation of the law, the EU has decided to organize and restore trust and security in the digital space with clear rights, obligations and safeguards,” he notes.
Among others, these 19 “very large platforms” (VLOPs), those with more than 45 million users in European territory, must already have the devices that allow them to point out and remove content up and running this Friday. illegal content quickly, for which they must have a mechanism for users to alert users of illegal content. They must also fight against misinformation, applying mitigation measures if necessary, or protect minors and fight against gender violence. They are also required to be more transparent and provide a better accountability system.
“The protection of minors will be a priority, as will the fight against disinformation, including pro-Russian propaganda, especially now that we are entering an electoral period in Europe”, highlights Breton, for whom “content moderation does not mean censorship”, Rather, what is sought is “to protect freedom of expression from arbitrary decisions,” while “protecting citizens and our democracies.”
In case of non-compliance with the new rules, the platforms are exposed to sanctions that can reach fines of up to 6% of their worldwide turnover. In the case of “dishonest” platforms that refuse to fulfill important obligations, “and thus endanger the life and safety of people”, it will also be possible, as a last resort, to request a court to temporarily suspend their activity. its service, after the participation of all interested parties, says the Commission.
With the entry into force of the DSA, the EU becomes “the first jurisdiction in the world where online platforms no longer have carte blanche and can set their own standards; now they are regulated entities in the same way as financial institutions”, celebrates Breton, for whom complying with this regulation “is not a punishment, but an opportunity for these platforms to reinforce their brand value and reputation as a reliable page”. The Twenty-seven are making great efforts to put themselves at the forefront of digital legislation, as also demonstrated by the Artificial Intelligence Law, another world first in the process of being negotiated in Europe.
The DSA changes will be deep and lasting, assure those responsible, although their effects will not necessarily be visible from this very Friday, they warn. “Just as banking reform didn’t change your checking account or your mortgage, but it did cause a lot of structural oversight behind the scenes, many of the effects of the DSA won’t be immediately visible to the user, but we believe it will have a lasting impact when it comes to remove illegal content ”, stress community sources.
“Let’s not underestimate the amount of reconfiguration that is underway and the internal changes in these companies, which have had to appoint a compliance officer who will have to report directly to the head of the company and respond to letters from the Commission,” they point out to the regard.
The basic principles of the DSA will be applicable to different online platforms, regardless of their size, from mid-February 2024. But Brussels is aware that it is not the same, nor does it have the same impact (nor ability to manipulate). a web of local exchanges than a global giant like Facebook. For this reason, it imposes on this last group, the so-called “very large platforms” (VLOPs), a series of stricter requirements: the creation of a code of conduct, an external and independent audit and public accountability or give users freedom not to receive recommendations based on profiling, among others.
In total, some 25 operating platforms have been identified in the EU that qualify as VLOPs, say community sources, although, for the moment, the rules only apply immediately to the first 19 designated and notified just four months ago. There is no date for a second batch of large platforms affected, but they have already been identified and work is being done on it, they say from the Commission.
At least five of the initial VLOPs (Facebook Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat) have already participated in recent months in “stress tests” to see their preparation for the deadline that meets this Friday. In each case, the Commission said there was still work to be done to prepare for the DSA. To better meet the requirements, TikTok announced earlier this month that the For You and Live algorithm will be “optional” for users in the EU. Snapchat has also already announced changes that will allow users to disable content personalization in Discover and Spotlight and receive notifications about why their content has been removed, with the ability to appeal the decision, as required by the new rules.
Two of the 19 designated platforms, Zalando and Amazon, have appealed to the General Court of the EU (TGUE) for their inclusion on this list. Community sources maintain, however, that they will have to comply with the vast majority of the DSA rules until the judges in Luxembourg make a decision.
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