19 May, 2020

Breton calls for new governance between online platforms and institutions

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how we interact, socialise and work, as many of these activities have moved to online platforms. While there are many benefits to this, risks also exist.

In this context, on 18 May, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton participated in a debate with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, to discuss the role and responsibilities of online platforms and their collaboration with governments during the pandemic as well as in the post-corona world. Other topics, such as the increased number of disinformation campaigns, illegal content and data sharing were also discussed. The debate was organised by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).

Commissioner Breton stressed the key role cooperation between authorities and online platforms plays not only during the coronavirus outbreak but also in future. He reminded that the European Commission has been in contact with online platforms since the beginning of the crisis and thanked Facebook for its collaboration. Breton regretted, however, that there has been a surge of disinformation campaigns and fake news, yet no effective measures taken, saying, “With disinformation we will never do enough – this is the disease of the century.” He also reminded that while access to data is important for the platforms, competition and data privacy rules need to be respected.

In this line, Zuckerberg called for more regulation and emphasized the need to base the rules on Western and democratic values. “One of the things I’ve appreciated about the Europeans is that when the EU sets policies, it becomes a standard around the world,” Zuckerberg added, referring to the GDPR regulation adopted by the European Commission.

Breton also called for a new governance model between the online platforms and institutions and mentioned that the Digital Services Act – a European regulation intended to assess all risks resulting from the use of digital services – is expected to be presented at the end of the year.

You can watch the debate in full below.

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