EU Formulates Digital Services Act (DSA) to Curb Harmful Content of Social Media

Under a new European Union regulatory framework approved recently, large online platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter will have to do more to combat unlawful content or they will have to deal with multibillion-euro fines. For breaking the regulations, the broad Digital Services Act (DSA) can fine a company up to 6% of its global revenue – of $7 billion (£5.9 billion) in the case of Facebook’s owner – and recurrent violations can result in a tech firm being barred from doing business in the EU.

EU Formulates Digital Services Act (DSA) to Curb Harmful Content of Social Media

The new rules, which will come into force in 2024, include the following:

  • Advertising targeted at children or based on sensitive information such as religion, gender, race, or political beliefs is prohibited.
  • Providing EU governments with the ability to request the removal of illegal materials that supports terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech, and commercial frauds.
  • Mandating social media sites to allow users to flag illegal content in a “simple and effective” manner so that it can be removed quickly
  • For dubious products, such as counterfeit footwear or dangerous toys, online marketplaces like Amazon will need similar mechanisms.

The DSA was drafted against the backdrop of global political and regulatory activity against online platforms. The UK is considering an online safety measure that would impose a duty of care on internet companies to protect consumers from harmful content, while the United States Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have filed antitrust complaints against Google and Facebook.

After more than 16 hours of negotiations among the EU member states, the EU’s executive arm, and EU MPs reached an agreement in the early hours of Saturday. The DSA is the second part of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s plan to rein in US tech behemoths.

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