April 26 2022, 15:21 pm

EU Adopts New Law to Combat Disinformation; Described as “Landmark” Legislation

US media is report­ing that the Euro­pean Union has adopt­ed a new land­mark law forc­ing tech com­pa­nies and oth­ers to com­bat mis­in­for­ma­tion and restrict cer­tain online ads. Accord­ing to an AP report:

April 23, 2022 BRUSSELS (AP) — Big tech com­pa­nies like Google and Face­book par­ent Meta will have to police their plat­forms more strict­ly to bet­ter pro­tect Euro­pean users from hate speech, dis­in­for­ma­tion and oth­er harm­ful online con­tent under land­mark EU leg­is­la­tion approved ear­ly Sat­ur­day.  Euro­pean Union offi­cials clinched the agree­ment in prin­ci­ple on the Dig­i­tal Ser­vices Act after lengthy final nego­ti­a­tions that began Fri­day. The law will also force tech com­pa­nies to make it eas­i­er for users to flag prob­lems, ban online ads aimed at kids and empow­er reg­u­la­tors to pun­ish non­com­pli­ance with bil­lions in fines.  The Dig­i­tal Ser­vices Act, one half of an over­haul for the 27-nation bloc’s dig­i­tal rule­book, helps cement Europe’s rep­u­ta­tion as the glob­al leader in efforts to rein in the pow­er of social media com­pa­nies and oth­er dig­i­tal plat­forms.  “With the DSA, the time of big online plat­forms behav­ing like they are ‘too big to care’ is com­ing to an end,” said EU Inter­nal Mar­ket Com­mis­sion­er Thier­ry Bre­ton.  EU Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Mar­grethe Vestager added that “with today’s agree­ment we ensure that plat­forms are held account­able for the risks their ser­vices can pose to soci­ety and cit­i­zens.” The act is the EU’s third sig­nif­i­cant law tar­get­ing the tech indus­try, a notable con­trast with the U.S., where lob­by­ists rep­re­sent­ing Sil­i­con Valley’s inter­ests have large­ly suc­ceed­ed in keep­ing fed­er­al law­mak­ers at bay.

Read the rest here.

The full Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­pos­al for the Dig­i­tal Ser­vices Act can be accessed here.

Accord­ing to a Euro­pean Com­mis­sion press release, the Dig­i­tal Ser­vices Act fol­lows the prin­ci­ple that what is ille­gal offline must also be ille­gal online. The press release also says that a new arti­cle has been intro­duced due to Russia’s aggres­sion against Ukraine and its asso­ci­at­ed infor­ma­tion war­fare. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Coun­cil have pre­vi­ous­ly launched sev­er­al ini­tia­tives to counter for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions and dis­in­for­ma­tion, includ­ing the Action Plan Against Dis­in­for­ma­tion and the Code of Prac­tice on Dis­in­for­ma­tion in 2018 and the East Strat­Com Task Force.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has exten­sive­ly cov­ered the EU efforts to counter dis­in­for­ma­tion and malign for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions. Recent report­ing has included:

  • In April, we report­ed that the EU Par­lia­ment set up a spe­cial com­mit­tee on mali­cious for­eign inter­fer­ence called INGE2 that will con­tin­ue the work of a sim­i­lar com­mit­tee called INGE1.
  • In March, we report­ed INGE1 said there is a “gen­er­al lack of aware­ness of the sever­i­ty of for­eign inter­fer­ence and infor­ma­tion manip­u­la­tion, over­whelm­ing­ly car­ried out by Rus­sia and Chi­na,” which is “exac­er­bat­ed by loop­holes in leg­is­la­tion and insuf­fi­cient coor­di­na­tion between EU countries.”
  • In Jan­u­ary, we report­ed that INGE1 had con­clud­ed its 18-month inquiry and rec­om­mend­ed build­ing a sanc­tions regime against dis­in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing it hard­er for for­eign actors to recruit for­mer top politi­cians too soon after they leave their job.


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