Monday, April 12, 2021

EU to tell Big Tech to monitor internet or face heavy fines

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The EU will demand that “very big” tech companies like Facebook and Amazon take greater responsibility for internet surveillance or face fines of up to 6% of their turnover, by under a draft regulation that will be published next week.

Big tech companies will need to look at third-party vendors like sellers who sell products on Amazon, and share data with authorities and researchers on how they moderate illegal content, according to the confidential document, viewed by the Financial Times .

Large online platforms will need to ensure greater transparency in advertising by informing users “clearly and unambiguously and in real time” that they are watching an advertisement. Consumers will also need to know who is behind the ad and receive “meaningful information on the main metrics used to determine” why they were targeted.

For the first time, Brussels regulators define “very large platforms” as those with more than 45 million users, or the equivalent of 10% of the block’s population. The plan targets these companies because of their “disproportionate influence” on internet users in the EU.

“Very large platforms now have a systemic role in amplifying and shaping information flows online and for the majority of EU citizens,” says the draft regulation.

According to the draft, large platforms, most of which are based in the United States, will have to appoint “one or more” compliance officers to ensure that they comply with the new rules of the Digital Services Act.

Failure to follow these rules will result in fines of up to 6 percent of their total sales in the previous fiscal year, the document revealed. The amount of the fines will depend on the seriousness of the violations, their duration and their recurrence, depending on the project.

The EU is carrying out its first major overhaul of EU internet rules in two decades, addressing everything from the level of responsibility online platforms should have when it comes to removing illegal content to how reduce their growing market power.

Large online platforms are “where the largest public is reached – and, potentially, the most serious harm is done,” the confidential document said.

“Such very large online platforms should therefore assume the highest level of due diligence obligations, commensurate with their societal impact and their means.

Thierry Breton, the French commissioner who is leading the campaign for stricter regulation of Big Tech, said last June: “Online platforms have played a central role in our life, our economy and our democracy. With such a role comes increased responsibility, but it can only happen in the context of a modern rulebook for digital services. “

Consumer groups have repeatedly warned that consumers are exposed to online scams or defective products without legal protection online.

Monique Goyens, CEO of Beuc, an umbrella organization of consumer associations, said the digital services law “will give the EU better tools to ensure that the digital economy works for the benefit of consumers rather than maximizing the huge profits of the tech giants. ”.

“The time has come to end the ability of tech giants to play on the digital economy in their own interests,” she added.

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