Internet: The European Union wants to conclude its flagship project to fight illegal content

Calls for killings, pedophile images, misinformation campaigns or counterfeit products … The EU wants to bring order to the wild west of the Internet with new legislation that will be implemented this Friday by member states and the European Parliament.

The text, which has been talked about for almost a year and a half, has to hold large digital platforms, such as Facebook (Meta) or Amazon, to force them to fight illegal content and cooperate with the authorities.

Representatives of the EU institutions met shortly after 10 am in Brussels. They hope to find an agreement this Friday evening on this flagship project which has sparked intense lobbying by tech giants and heated debates over free speech.

A first part of the law was already passed in March

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is one of two parts of a major plan presented in December 2020 by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and her Internal Market counterpart Thierry Breton.

The first component, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which addresses anti-competitive practices, was concluded in late March.

The DSA, meanwhile, is updating the e-commerce directive, which was born 20 years ago when giant platforms were still in their infancy. Goal : put an end to lawlessness and Internet abuse.What is banned offline should be banned online“Thierry Breton launched on Twitter on Friday.

Excesses on social media have often reached the headlines. Assassination of history professor Samuel Paty in France, following a hate campaign in October 2020, an attack on protesters at the US Capitol in January 2021, partly planned thanks to Facebook and Twitter …

The dark side of the Internet also refers to platforms saturated with the sale of counterfeit or defective products, which can be dangerous, such as children’s toys that do not meet safety standards.

The new regulation establishes the obligation to withdraw “prompt»Any illegal content (according to national and European laws) as soon as a platform becomes aware of it. Forces social media to suspend violating users “Often“The Law.

The DSA will require online retailers to verify the identity of their suppliers before offering their products.

“Crossing the finish line”

At the heart of the project, new obligations imposed on “very large platforms“those that count”more than 45 million active users»In the EU, that is, about twenty companies, whose list is yet to be determined but which will include Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), as well as Twitter, and probably TikTok, Zalando or Booking.

These actors must themselves assess the risks associated with the use of their services and put in place the appropriate means to eliminate problematic content. Greater transparency will be imposed on their data and recommendation algorithms.

They will be audited once a year by independent bodies and will be subject to the supervision of the European Commission. which may impose fines of up to 6% of their annual sales in case of repeated violations.

The DSA should impose, for example, the deletion of used imagesrevenge pornand prohibit the use without consent of political opinion data for advertising purposes.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her support for the project on Thursday evening. ” For too long, technology platforms have amplified misinformation and irresponsible extremism (…). I urge our transatlantic allies to make the Digital Services Act cross the line and support global democracy before it is too late.
“, he wrote on Twitter.

The American whistleblower Frances Haugen, who denounced Facebook’s passivity in the face of the inconvenience of her social media, had hosted in November the ” huge potential
”Of the DSA that could become a“ reference
for other countries, including the United States.

The Federation of European Consumer Associations (BEUC), however, fears that the text will not go far enough, especially in online sales. It considers it essential that commercial sites be required to perform random checks on the products of their suppliers.

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