Negotiations between European states, on their project to regulate digital giants, will intensify with the prospect of agreeing in November on the means to put an end to their abuses, highlighted by a whistleblower of Facebook.

The two legislative proposals (DSA and DMA), presented in December 2020 by the European Commission, have since been discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council, which represents the States.

Platform traffic inflated

These talks of the Twenty-Seven like those of the MEPs have recently accelerated, supported in particular by the revelations of the whistleblower of Facebook, Frances Haugen, on the systemic inability of the company to remedy the harmful effects of its products for not to hinder the increase in attendance and its profits. Frances Haugen, who is to be heard on November 8 by MEPs, accuses Facebook in particular of having knowingly removed filters against disinformation to inflate platform traffic.

However, the Regulation on digital services ("Digital Services Act", DSA) wants to prohibit platforms from using algorithms to promote false information and dangerous speech, with for the largest an obligation of means to moderate the content.

Second part, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) Regulation, provides specific rules only for "systemic" players, whose omnipotence threatens the free play of competition, with in particular the drastic supervision of their use of private data.

Battles in Parliament

Among them, the five American "Gafam" (acronym designating Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft), who finance with millions of euros an intense lobbying to water down the planned regulations. Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, is working to get European governments to adopt a common position on the two laws at a meeting on November 25, a diplomat from the country said. "It's on the right track, but there are still questions unanswered," another diplomat observes of DMA. States will then launch negotiations with MEPs with a view to finalizing a final agreement paving the way for the adoption of the texts during the French presidency of the EU, which begins in January.

"Time is running out," warned this week, Thierry Breton, the European commissioner behind the two proposals.

This ambitious schedule could be shaken up by persistent divisions in the European Parliament, even if the MEPs leading the discussions are still betting on a compromise by the beginning of 2022. One of the battles concerns the DMA, which could in particular force Apple to open its iPhone to competing app stores, while Facebook and Google are said to be restricted in their tracking users for advertising purposes - a tool that secures them billions in profits.

Fines or even more severe penalties

The Social Democrats (S & D), the second political group in Parliament, want to impose these demands on a greater number of companies, such as Netflix, Booking.com or Airbnb, well beyond just “systemic” players. The other groups are fiercely opposed to it. "So far, we are on the right track" for a compromise, tempers the rapporteur of the text Andreas Schwab (EPP, right). Negotiations between MEPs "could be concluded in the coming weeks," says Evelyne Gebhardt (S & D). Another crucial issue for Parliament: who will be responsible for enforcing the new regulations on the digital giants?

Some national authorities want to keep control, but others want Brussels to have the power to act quickly and to strike hard across the EU, in particular for the law on digital services, which aims to fight against illegal content .

Tech companies face fines and even tougher penalties if they don't address reported issues quickly and effectively.

Thierry Breton fears that in the absence of a strong power in Brussels, some states will be more lax than others. 

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  • Digital

  • EU

  • Facebook

  • World

  • Gafa

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