You wait for months for an announcement about content legislation that might change the fabric of the internet and then two come along at once. That was the case on Tuesday: Digital Services Act (European Union) and Online Harms (UK).
🇪🇺 In Brussels, legislators announced large fines
(up to 6% of revenue) for companies that fail to limit illegal material on their platforms as well as insisting on greater access to internal data and the appointment of independent auditors to ensure compliance with the new rules. Legal firm Allen Overy has a broader overview
The legislation, which will now be debated with EU members states and is unlikely to come in before 2023, also had a competition component to ensure small platforms are not squeezed out by Google and Facebook et al.
I found the tone of coverage in US news outlets very interesting: The Washington Post
noted that American companies would be “submit to particularly aggressive rules” while the WSJ
accused the EU of wanting to “expand their role as global tech enforcers”. Talk about bitter.
🇬🇧 Across the channel, the UK government published its final response
to the 2019 Online Harms
white paper (EiM #51
) which was designed to force platforms to have a duty of care toward users.
As expected, Ofcom — the UK government’s communications regulator — has been granted power to issue fines of up to 10% of the companies revenue. Previously mooted criminal liabilities for company execs have been dropped for now.
🇺🇸 As if that all wasn’t enough, over in the US, some of the web’s biggest companies including eBay, Cloudflare and Tripadvisor, have created Internet Works
, an industry lobbying group
to explain the benefits of Section 230 and the implications of legislation changes. Section 230 is in the firing line, courtesy of one Donald Trump, but this tech collective could mark the start of a fightback.