xi's moments
Home | Europe

Tech companies pressure EU on new digital laws

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-08 10:33

Major tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are lobbying the European Union not to hold them legally responsible for all the content uploaded on their platforms.

According to the Financial Times, the tech giants have written to the European Commission via Edima, the European association representing online platforms and other innovative enterprises, warning that making companies liable for all content on their platforms would lead to punishments for companies that tried, proactively, to uncover illegal material.

It comes as the European Commission draws up its Digital Services Act, or DSA, that will set out rules for the technology sector to remove illegal content or face the threat of sanctions, expected to be unveiled at the end of the year.

The EU has so far relied on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube engaging in voluntary self-regulation for illegal material in everything except terrorist content.

The new laws will mean social media giants will be subject to mandatory "notice and take down" orders forcing them to remove illegal content, including certain types of racism and xenophobia, from their sites, or face fines.

However, in the letter from Edima, the companies accept that it may be necessary to set up a bloc-level independent watchdog to check that social media is doing what it can to remove illegal content.

The FT report states that the EU has so far accepted that the large social platforms themselves take care to remove illegal content and that they are not held legally responsible for content that they are unaware of. The lobby group says that is how it should continue.

Edima points out that the companies risk being punished even though they are proactively working to uncover illegal material.

It could lead to "a perverse incentive whereby companies are discouraged from taking action before being made aware of the existence of illegal content, for fear of incurring additional liability", said Siada El Ramly, director-general of Edima.

However, the lobby group also points out that "a new approach might require some form of oversight to ensure it is effective".

According to the FT, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton has stated that the EU will not seek to remove or water down the current rules on limited liability, but it adds that the law continues to be debated and that nothing is certain.

The FT adds that the planned legislation comes in response to a wave of controversies in recent years including the Cambridge Analytica data breach, disinformation around elections in Europe, and footage of terrorist attacks being shared on the platforms.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349