24 Jan, 2022

Digital Services Act: Big step towards healthier online environment

The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament welcomed last week’s adoption of the Digital Services Act (DSA) by the European Parliament, which paves the way to a safer, fairer and open internet for users and online platforms.

Renew Europe pushed for a balanced outcome, confirming the basic principles of the e-Commerce Directive and guaranteeing the respect of fundamental rights online, without overburdening SMEs. The EU needs to strengthen the responsibility of online platforms and clarify rules for providing online services, while ensuring a Digital Single Market without national barriers and unjustified regulation, where innovation and new business models can flourish.

Platforms need to be more transparent than in the past, to guarantee a safer online world and offer an informed choice for consumers, especially when it comes to targeted ads.

Protecting minors and making the internet more accessible to all citizens are also priorities for Renew Europe, so it was made sure that the DSA imposes a specific prohibition to target or profile children online and that platforms respect specific accessibility criteria for people with disabilities.

The DSA also tackles the problem of illegal content and false flagging content by creating a better system to fight against these practices.

ALDE Party Vice-President Dita Charanzová MEP (ANO, CZ) Vice-President of the European Parliament and Renew Europe Group rapporteur on Digital Services Act, said:

“If the real world cannot be perfect, neither can the internet. This does not mean, however, that we should not try to make the internet a safer, better place, which respects freedom of speech while supporting our European businesses. This is the goal of the DSA.

This creates a better system that will help us fight illegal content while giving our citizens more rights. One that requires the big giants to take a transparent look at themselves and to address the risks that are inherent within their systems. All providers, including marketplaces, have a social responsibility towards us, their users and this includes protecting children online.

This creates a law and justice system for the internet, but this law is the first step, not the last. There is a lot of work ahead of us.”

Renew Europe is also against any additional media exemption in the DSA. This would potentially be massive loophole for the spread of disinformation online though propaganda and extremist media organisations. Even if the worst of this (AM 511) was rejected by the European Parliament, additions to the Article 12 can still be misused.

Bart Groothuis MEP (VVD, NL), Renew Europe Group Shadow Rapporteur in the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE), said:

“From a foreign interference and disinformation perspective, the DSA will be a revolutionary tool that will label deep fakes as ‘not authentic’. However, I am extremely disappointed by the vote on the media exemption. I fear that self-proclaimed and foreign media will be protected when spreading disinformation, setting us years back in time. During the trilogues we will need to ensure that it will not become a loophole for massive disinformation.”

Photo credit: © European Union 2021

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