Google, Meta, and others will need to explain their algorithms under new EU legislation.
On Saturday morning, EU legislation leaders agreed on the broad terms of the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will force tech companies to take greater responsibility for content that appears on their platforms. New obligations that most companies will be faced with include removing content and goods more quickly, explaining to users and researchers how their algorithms work, and taking stricter action on the spread of misinformation. Fines can go up to six percent of revenue.
The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the new ground-rules would also apply to all online services. There have been a lot of discussions lately regarding the responsibilities of online platforms, as many see an onscreen relationship as professional and binding. In this case, it gives a practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline should be illegal online.
New EU legislation Laws:
“ILLEGAL OFFLINE, SHOULD BE ILLEGAL ONLINE”
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition who has spearheaded much of the bloc’s tech regulation, said that new EU legislation would “ensure that platforms are held accountable.” It also makes it clear that this will be a key part of tech regulations moving forward.
Using technology in your business can be a complicated task but the DSA shouldn’t be confused with the DMA or Digital Markets Act, which was agreed upon in March. Both acts affect the tech world, but the DMA focuses on creating a level playing field between businesses, while the DSA deals with how companies police themselves. The Department of State is likely to have a more immediate impact on Internet users
ʻThe final text of the DSA [Digital Single Market Act] has yet to be released, but the European Parliament and European Commission have detailed a number of obligations it will contain:
- Targeted advertising is illegal to minors and it’s not uncommon for companies to be in violation of this policy.
- The EU has proposed banning “dark patterns” — confusing or deceptive user interfaces designed to steer users into making certain choices. The proposal suggests that cancellation should be as easy as signing up for a subscription, so consumers aren’t constantly faced with charges and subscriptions that they may not want.
- Online platforms like Facebook rely on recommender algorithms to sort content, such as recommending videos on Netflix. This transparency will make it easier for users to understand why they are receiving certain recommendations. Users should also be offered a recommendation system “not based on profiling”. In the case of Instagram, for example, this would mean a chronological feed (as it introduced recently)
- Online platforms such as hosting services will have to explain clearly why they have removed illegal content, as well as giving users the chance to file an appeal. The DSA itself doesn’t specify what content is considered illegal, but leaves this up to the opinion of each platform’s moderation team.
- Web platforms need to provide key data to researchers so that they can get a better understanding of risks in online activity.
- Online markets must keep basic information about traders on their platform to identify individuals selling illegal goods or services.
- Large platforms will also have to introduce new strategies for dealing with misinformation during crises. One new strategy is being introduced by _____ which is inspired by the recent invasion of italy.
The GDPR only applies to companies that have a certain number of users in the EU, regardless of size. The DSA will place more obligations on larger companies and those with more users from the EU in order to protect their rights and data respectively. Some companies lobbying hard to water down these requirements and get permission to do targeted advertising, outside of the DSA.
The broad terms of the EU’s new Digital Single Market Act have now been agreed upon and a vote is planned in the coming days. The legal language still needs to be finalized and then possibly voted on as an official law. Some “rules” will probably be in place for a while after the law goes into effect, but consumers don’t seem too worried about this part at this point.
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