The European Union intends to introduce new, stricter operating rules for large American technology companies. On Thursday, November 25, the EU member states agreed on a unified position to be able to better control the activities of Internet giants and set more rules for them.
We are talking about passing two laws – the Digital Services Act (DMA) and the Digital Markets Act (DSA). Their details are still to be worked out, so the new rules for Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook will not take effect until 2023. After that, companies will face heavy fines for violating laws – in the case of DMA, they can go up to ten percent of the annual turnover.
The new regulations will replace the e-commerce directive more than 20 years ago. As stated by the acting. Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection of Germany Christine Lambrecht, the legal framework will be adapted to the new realities of the digital age. For example, the law on digital markets is intended to tighten the rules for suppliers – the so-called “gatekeepers”, which occupy a particularly strong position in the market, and establish rules for them how to handle customer data and access platforms.
In line with the new realities of the digital age
Bitkom, a digital economy alliance, said that “the digital markets law sets important new impetus for fair competition in the EU.” At the same time, Bitkom representatives indicated that the new rules do not sufficiently take into account their long-term impact on European platforms, startups and cybersecurity issues. And the head of the Central Association of German Craftsmen (ZDH), Holger Schwannecke, complained about the too narrow scope of DMA. According to him, the new rules will apply to only a few European platforms.
And the digital services law is intended to make online platforms more accountable in the fight against illegal content. This will improve consumer protection, Bitkom said. In addition, as Lambrecht pointed out, manipulative methods aimed at nudging consumers to buy a product or service will be prohibited from now on. Platforms will have to pay more attention to user complaints, respond more attentively to their complaints, and provide more information in advertisements. Failure to comply with these requirements is fraught with fines of up to six percent of the annual turnover.
Meanwhile, the Berlin-based non-profit organization HateAid, which provides advice and support to victims of online hate speech, has identified many weaknesses in the new law. On the one hand, it provides a “historic chance” to better combat threats, insults and other forms of digital violence, HateAid said. However, representatives of the organization noted the lack of easy access to justice and easy communication with the platforms.