How will European Union’s Digital Services Act impact Google, Facebook, TikTok, other major tech companies

Europe's new digital rules for tech giants to take effect this week, aimed at keeping users safe online and stopping the spread of harmful content. European tech companies face new regulations to clean up online content. Platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Google must comply or face fines.

Edited By Fareha Naaz
First Published23 Aug 2023
EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) to impact Google, Facebook, TikTok, and other major tech companies in Europe
EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) to impact Google, Facebook, TikTok, and other major tech companies in Europe

Google, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, Instagram, Snapchat and other major tech companies operating in Europe are confronting an extensive effort to clean up online content, AP reported. The first phase of the European Union’s new new digital regulations, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA), is set to become effective from this Friday, August25. 

The DSA, a part of a suite of tech-focused rules developed by the 27-nation bloc, aims to enhance online user safety and prevent the spread of illegal or harmful content, including content violating platform terms of service, such as promotion of genocide or anorexia. It also seeks to safeguard fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

Some online platforms have already begun making changes to comply with the DSA, which could subject them to significant fines if they fail to do so.

Which Platforms Are Impacted?

As of now, 19 platforms are affected, including prominent social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Five online marketplaces including Amazon, Booking.com, Alibaba AliExpress, and Germany’s Zalando are also subject to the DSA. Google Play and Apple’s App Store, along with Google’s Search and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, are part of the regulatory scope. Google Maps and Wikipedia are also included. The list is based on numbers submitted by the platforms. Hence, those with 45 million or more users or 10% of the EU’s population will be under DSA’s regulation.

However, some notable platforms like eBay, Airbnb, Netflix, and even PornHub are not on the EU’s list, raising questions about the list's completeness. It's possible that other platforms may be added later. Eventually, any digital service provider catering to Europeans will have to comply with the DSA, albeit with fewer obligations than the largest platforms and with an additional six months to align with the regulations.

What is going to change?

Platforms have begun implementing new methods for European users to report illegal online content and problematic products, which companies will be obligated to promptly and objectively remove. Reporting tools for illegal or rule-breaking content will become more accessible on major platforms. Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will make it easier to report such content. Amazon is introducing a new channel for reporting suspected illegal products and providing more information about third-party merchants.

Meta’s president for global affairs Nick Clegg stated in a blog post, " The DSA will have a significant impact on the experiences Europeans have when they open their phones or fire up their laptops.”

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TikTok is enhancing its reporting options for users regarding illegal content, offering categories such as hate speech, harassment, suicide, self-harm, misinformation, or frauds and scams for more precise reporting. TikTok will also have a dedicated team to assess flagged content and provide explanations to users. Users can appeal content removal decisions.

Several platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, will offer options to disable recommendation systems that may contribute to the spread of extreme content. The DSA prohibits targeting vulnerable groups, including children, with ads.

Is there opposition?

Some companies, like Zalando, have contested their inclusion on the DSA's list of major online platforms, arguing that they don't pose systemic risks like other platforms. Despite this, they are implementing content flagging systems.

Amazon has also filed a legal case with a top EU court.

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Consequences of non-compliance

Tech companies have been warned that violations could result in fines of up to 6 percent of their global revenue or even a ban from the EU. Platforms will have to allow the European Commission to scrutinise their algorithms.

The DSA places emphasis on how platforms interact with digital advertising systems and livestreaming features, as these could be used to disseminate harmful content or disinformation. Platforms must identify and evaluate potential systemic risks and have these assessments independently audited.

The impact of these changes could extend beyond Europe, as platforms like Wikipedia plan to implement global alterations based on DSA requirements. Compliance will be challenging to limit due to the global reach of digital ad networks and social media influencers.

Mint could not independently confirm the development

Read the full report at AP

(With inputs from AP)

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