Adam Satariano, a Europe-based reporter for the Newyork times, expects that the European Digital Services Act will force Meta, Google and others to combat misinformation and restrict some online advertising.

In a report, Satariano explains that the European Union reached an agreement on Saturday on landmark legislation that would force Facebook, YouTube and other Internet services to combat misinformation, reveal how their services amplify divisive content and stop targeting ads via The Internet is based on a person's race, religion, or sexual orientation.

He said the law aims to address the societal harms of social media by requiring companies to monitor their platforms more aggressively for illegal content or risk billions of dollars in fines.

Tech companies will have to put in place new policies and procedures to remove reported hate speech, terrorist propaganda and other material considered illegal by countries within the European Union.

The goal of the law

The law also aims to end an era of self-regulation in which tech companies set their own policies on which content could remain open or be removed.

It is distinguished from other regulatory attempts by online speech processing, a largely off-limits area in the United States due to First Amendment protections.

The report indicated that Google, which owns YouTube, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, will face annual audits for "systemic risks" associated with their businesses, while Amazon will face new rules. To stop selling illegal products.

The Digital Services Act is part of a two-way blow to tech giants by the European Union to address the social and economic impacts of these companies' social media services.

Last month, the 27-nation European bloc approved a different blanket law called the Digital Markets Act to counter what regulators see as anti-competitive behavior by the biggest tech companies, including combating their grip on app stores, ads and online shopping.

These new laws, Satariano says, illustrate how Europe sets the standard for technological regulation globally.

Google and Meta will face annual audits of "systemic risks" associated with their businesses (Reuters)

European officials, frustrated with anti-competitive behavior, the impact of social media on elections and privacy-invading business models, have spent more than a year negotiating policies that give them sweeping new powers to crack down on the trillion-dollar tech giants that billions of people use for communication, entertainment, payments and news.

"This will be a model," Alexandra Geis, a Green Party member of the European Parliament from Germany, said of the new law, adding that she had already spoken to lawmakers in Japan, India and other countries about the legislation.

Are we getting to the point?

"Platforms must be transparent about content moderation decisions, prevent dangerous misinformation from spreading and avoid displaying unsafe products," Margaretha Vestager, who has led much of the bloc's work to regulate the technology industry as executive vice president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, was quoted as saying. in the markets".

The writer said that these moves contrast with the lack of movement in the United States.

Although US regulators have brought antitrust cases against Google and Meta, no comprehensive federal laws have been passed that address the power of tech companies.

How effective is the law?

Yet even as European authorities gain new legal powers to rein in the tech giants, critics have questioned their effectiveness;

Writing laws can be easier than enforcing them.

And while the European Union has a reputation as the world's most powerful regulator of the technology industry, its actions have at times looked tougher than in practice.

An estimated 230 new workers will be hired to implement the new laws, a number that critics have said is insufficient when compared to the resources available to Meta, Google and others.

"They haven't demonstrated that they can use the powerful tools that already exist to rein in the big tech companies," said Johnny Ryan, a privacy rights activist and senior fellow at the Irish Civil Liberties Council. .

Even as European authorities gain new legal powers to rein in tech giants, critics have questioned their effectiveness (Shutterstock)

Tech companies warn

Technology companies and industry trade groups have warned that the laws could have unintended consequences, such as hurting small businesses and undermining Europe's digital economy.

Google said - in a statement - that it supports the goals of the Digital Services Act, but "the details will be important," and that it plans to work with policy makers "to get the remaining technical details right."

Twitter said its "top priority" is keeping people safe online" and that it still needed to review details of the legislation. Amazon and Meta declined to comment, and TikTok did not respond to requests for comment.

The final text of the Digital Services Act is not expected to be available for several weeks, and a final vote has yet to take place, a process that is not expected to lead to any major changes to the agreement, but European Commission and Parliament policy makers involved in the negotiations have described in detail what could It is one of the most pervasive parts of digital politics in the world.

The report explained that this law, which will take effect by next year, does not order online platforms to remove certain forms of speech, leaving this to individual countries to determine. For example, some forms of hate speech and references to Nazism are illegal in Germany but not in Germany. In other European countries, the law forces companies to add ways for users to report illegal content.

Many of the rulings related to social media closely follow recommendations made by Frances Hogan, a former Facebook employee who became a whistleblower.

The law requires companies to provide a way for users to turn off recommendation algorithms that use their personal data to personalize content.

Meta, TikTok and other companies will also have to share more data on how their platforms work, with outside researchers at universities and civil society groups.

Firms are required to conduct an annual risk assessment report, reviewed by an external auditor, and announce a summary of the results.

Policymakers said reputational damage could be stronger than fines, but if the European Commission decides Meta or another company is not doing enough to address the problems identified by the auditors, the company could face financial penalties of up to 6% of global revenue and be required to changing business practices.

New restrictions on targeted advertising could have significant impacts on Internet-based businesses, and rules would limit data use based on race, religion, political opinions, or labor union membership, and businesses would also not be able to target children with ads.

Online retailers such as Amazon will face new requirements to stop illegal products being sold by sellers on their platforms, and that leaves companies open to consumer lawsuits.

Europe's position as a regulatory leader will depend on enforcing new laws that are likely to face legal challenges from the largest companies, said Augustin Reina, director of legal and economic affairs at the European Consumer Organization (Consumer Watch).

He added that effective enforcement was absolutely key to the success of these new rules.

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