EU agrees on new rules for the Internet
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EU agrees on new rules for the Internet

Golem de
Berlin, on 25.04.2022

In the future, there will be a kind of NetzDG at EU level as well. However, the regulations for the Digital Services Act (DSA) are significantly more comprehensive.

This is an article from our content partner "Golem". Here you can find the original article by the author Friedhelm Greis.

In a final 16-hour round of negotiations, representatives of the European Parliament and EU member states have agreed on new rules for Internet companies in the EU. "Under the new rules, intermediary services - in particular online platforms such as social media and marketplaces - will have to take measures to protect their users from illegal content, goods and services," the European Parliament's relevant Internal Market Committee announced on the night of April 23, 2022.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the agreement "historic" on Twitter, adding, "Our new rules will protect online users, ensure freedom of expression and open up new opportunities for businesses. What is illegal offline will effectively be illegal online in the EU." This sends a strong signal to people, businesses and countries worldwide, he said.

Mixture of e-commerce directive and NetzDG

The EU Commission hadpresented the proposal for the so-called Digital Services Act (DSA) inDecember 2020. Together with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the DSA forms a kind of basic law for the Internet in Europe. Parliament and member states agreed on the regulations for the DMA as early as March 2022.

The DSA is a kind of mixture of the previous e-commerce directive and the German Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). The planned regulation perpetuates important principles of the Internet economy. These include the so-called liability privilege for host providers, the country of origin principle and the prohibition of a general monitoring obligation. It also regulates the handling of illegal content and the obligations of major Internet platforms.

Personalized advertising will be restricted

The EU regulation therefore goes much further than the NetzDG in many areas. "Personalized advertising for minors and the use of sensitive data will be prohibited," said MEP Martin Schirdewan at the conclusion of negotiations. This is a great success for the protection of users, "even if a complete ban on personalized advertising would be desirable."

However, MEP Patrick Breyer takes a more critical view of the agreement. In his view, the ban on using sensitive personality traits such as a user's political opinion, illnesses or sexual preferences for targeted manipulation and targeting has been "severely watered down." The Pirate politician said, "The new rules on personal advertising will apply to all online platforms with user content such as Facebook, Instagram or eBay, but not to Internet portals with self-generated content such as news websites."

No verification requirement for porn uploaders

According to Schirdewan, the DSA opens "the black box of the algorithms of online platforms" through far-reaching transparency obligations.

The negotiating parties also agreed that the large IT corporations will have to pay a supervision fee in the future. This is intended to finance the enforcement of the regulation by supervisory authorities.

In addition, a passage on so-called dark patterns was included in the DSA. Such "dark patterns" are intended to induce users to give unwanted consent or to conclude contracts. However, member states "under administrative pretexts" ended up severely limiting the scope of the proposal, Schirdewan said.

The MEP also regretted that an exemption rule for medium-sized companies had been integrated. "This is a mistake. Due to the numerous companies that fall under this definition in the digital sector, the exception resembles a loophole," Schirdewan criticized.

Also deleted was a demand by the European Parliament that providers of porn portals in the EU be required to verify user uploads. New deletion obligations for search engines, which had been discussed recently, were also not included in the DSA.

Breyer: No basic law for the Internet

In Breyer's view, the DSA does not deserve to be called a "digital basic law." "Our privacy on the net is not protected by a right to anonymous Internet use, nor by a right to encryption, a ban on data retention, or a right to reject surveillance advertising in the browser (Do not track). (...) Industry and government interests have unfortunately prevailed over digital civil rights," said the civil rights activist.

The exact wording of the agreement is not yet available. According to the European Parliament, the text must first be finalized at the technical level and reviewed by legal and linguistic experts before both the Parliament and the Council give their formal approval. Once this process is complete, it will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The regulations are scheduled to enter into force 15 months later. This could then be the case in the fall of 2023.

Titelbild: Shutterstock

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