The European Union regulates social networks and e-commerce platforms

European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in Brussels, 23 February 2022.

It’s a moment “historical” for digital regulation: Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, makes no secret of his satisfaction that on Saturday 23 April in Brussels, after 16 hours of negotiations, he reached a political agreement on the European regulation Digital Services Act (DSA ). A month after the Digital Markets Act passed, a text “economic” Intended to command dominant platforms the respect of their competitors, the DSA aims to reduce the risks to the ” society “, by levying levies on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok and on online sales markets such as Amazon or Leboncoin. “These lyrics are two sides of the same coin”, says Mr Breton. The DSA is expected to enter into force in early 2023.

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This regulation is also a political victory for France, which hoped to reach an agreement before the end of its presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), scheduled for mid-June.

These authors strive to update, “for the next twenty years”, the regulation of the web, in effect in Europe since the e-commerce directive passed in the year 2000, when Facebook did not exist and Amazon had just opened in France. For some, this founding text left too much freedom for the digital giants, as it exempts hosts from liability for content posted by third parties as long as they are not notified.

However, others argue that holding platforms accountable or forcing them to remove problematic content within 24 hours would jeopardize freedom of expression and lead to excessive censorship – EP (LRM) Laetitia Avia bill was introduced to this effect. reason rejected by the Constitutional Council in 2019.

To solve this dilemma, the new European regulation imposes: “commitments of means and transparency” to great service. Like the banks, they will be required to pay periodic “risk assessments”, and then propose measures. The areas currently targeted are the fight against illegal content (incitement to hatred, dangerous or counterfeit products, etc.), attacks on electoral processes (disinformation, etc.), attacks on freedom of expression (to avoid over-censorship) and harm to minors and their mental health. They are all linked to the Charter of Human Rights.

“Compensation” for the disadvantaged consumer

The major platforms already have content moderation policies in place, but now the allocated resources and the results will be assessed by the European Commission. This can impose fines of up to 6% of their turnover, or even ban them in the EU.

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