The Digital Services Act is expected to be one of the most important pieces of legislation in this parliamentary term, enhancing the liability and safety regime of Internet platforms, services, and on-line marketplaces. Since the recovery plan of the European economy after COVID-19 crisis stands on two pillars—the Green New Deal and digitization—the urgent necessity to draft this act just right is our major task for the following months.
This legislation will update the 2000s Directive on Electronic Commerce, which defined levels of protection of rights and freedoms on-line and how intermediaries—such as social media or search engines—govern users activities on their platforms. Otherwise, simply put, it will determine how the Internet looks like, digital businesses operate, and users interact on-line in the next decades.
Given the enormous importance of this file, the Digital Services Act is not just at a political and media spotlight, but also in the center of attention of a lot of my parliamentary colleagues. There have been three own initiative reports drafted, providing political guidelines to the European Commissions, and five different committees involved in giving opinion on the future legislation on the Digital Services Act, investigating the topic from different angles. Let’s take a look on those that I am actively involved in.
IMCO: Improving the functioning of the Single Market
Rapporteur: Alex Agius Saliba (S&D)
- EPP: Pablo Arias Echeverría
- Renew: Dita Charanzová
- Greens/EFA: Alexandra Geese
- ECR: Eugen Jurzyca
- GUE/NGL: Martin Schirdewan
I have already shared my views and reservations on this IMCO report drafted by Maltese S&D MEP Alex Agius Saliba. CULT (rapporteur Petra Kammerevert), JURI (rapporteur Patrick Breyer), TRAN (rapporteur Josianne Cutajar), LIBE (rapporteur Paul Tang) provided opinion for this proposition. The vote on the report is planned to take place in the IMCO committee in July and at the plenary in September.
CULT: Opinion on the IMCO report Improving the functioning of the Single Market
The CULT committee is an associated committee on this file under the rule 57, which means that the subject of the legislation falls almost equally under the competences of both committees. Rapporteurs jointly agree on timelines and aim to find common proposals that they present in their respective committees.
As a shadow rapporteur on the CULT opinion, I have been advocating for harmonizing legislation on notice and action in order to facilitate the speedy removal of illegal content on-line and for the right to be informed about the possibility of redress. It is crucial to have easily accessible, comprehensive, and timely mechanisms to object to deletion of posts.
Furthermore, we need uniform rules regarding advertising and transparency measures for Internet platforms, defining how they remove, hide, and prioritize content. Users must know how many of users' contributions have been deleted from the social network, or what the logic is behind the order of posts in their feed. The same goes for the information about the number of cases of content wrongly labelled as illegal. Platforms have become one of the main sources of information for web surfers; hence, a strong watchdog mechanism must be in place.
The vote on the opinion in the CULT committee had been set to May; however, due to the ongoing crisis, it was moved to July. Voting on the final report in the IMCO committee, as mentioned above, is also planned for July.
JURI: Digital Services Act: adapting commercial and civil law rules for commercial entities operating online
Rapporteur: Tiemo Wölken (S&D)
- EPP: József Szájer
- Renew: Karen Melchior
- Greens/EFA: Patrick Breyer
- ECR: Angel Dzhambazki
- GUE/NGL: Emmanuel Maurel
My Pirate colleague Patrick Breyer—as a shadow rapporteur on this file—pushes, along with other things, for an explicit ban on upload filters (one of the key issues of the Copyright Directive negotiated last parliamentary term, which brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets across Europe) as well as for the right for an anonymous use of Internet services. He has recently shared his vision of the future legislation on his blog. The IMCO (rapporteur Dita Charanzová) and CULT (rapporteur Petra Kammerevert) committees provided opinions to this report.
As a shadow rapporteur on the IMCO opinion, on behalf of my group, I also advocate, among others, for prohibition on automatic control of uploaded content and for obligatory interoperability among platforms. That means that users have the right to maintain contacts to their friends in the competing services, even if they decide not to use these particular services. It is an important step to prevent deepening oligopolization of the Internet space by few dominant players.
The vote on this opinion is planned in the IMCO committee in July. Voting on the final report in the JURI committee shall take place in September.