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EU agrees on new rules to curb tech giants

Parliamentarians agreed on a draft proposal for the Digital Services act, aimed at tackling illegal content and ensuring accountability

DPA/Picture Alliance via REUTERS
DPA/Picture Alliance via REUTERS

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) agreed last week on a draft proposal for the Digital Services Act (DSA) – a set of measures to tackle illegal content, ensure social media platforms are held accountable for their algorithms, and improve content moderation.

The text was approved by 530 to 78 votes, with 80 abstentions, and will be used as the basis to open negotiations with member states regarding measures to counter illegal online products, services and content; options for tracking-free advertising and banning the use on minors’ data for targeted ads; damage compensation; and more transparent algorithms.

A European Parliament document explains that the DSA proposal defines clear responsibilities and accountability for providers of online platforms, such as social media and marketplaces. The Members of Parliament rejected an amendment on fully banning behavioral ads. Still, this new proposal is bound to put pressure on the tech giants.

The DSA was proposed by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager. Ahead of the vote, she tweeted: “Democracy is powerful – what is illegal offline, is also illegal online. With the #DSA we can give muscle to this principle.”

“Happy, relieved and proud,” Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose, who led the who Parliament’s negotiating team, tweeted after the vote.

In a press statement, Schaldemose added that "Online platforms have become increasingly important in our daily life, bringing new opportunities, but also new risks."

Last month, the European Parliament approved the draft of a complementary act, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which “blacklists certain practices used by large platforms acting as ‘gatekeepers’ and enables the Commission to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviours.”

The DMA text was approved 642 votes to 8, with 46 abstentions. It sets new obligations and prohibitions directly applicable to such platforms, with a view to ensuring fair and open markets.

Putting an end to unfair business practices by big online platforms through various measures such as obligations and prohibitions applicable to “gatekeepers”, restrictions on “killer acquisitions”, and a minimum level of fines of 4%, up to 20$ of total turnover.

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