The digital space in Europe has remained the same since the beginning of the new millennium. In the meantime, a number of services have appeared to help us find information, watch videos, keep in touch with friends, or find the partner of our dreams. Words such as algorithms, targeted advertising, personal data protection, or communication encryption are increasingly seeping into public space. Politicians, experts, academics, and the public call for regulation of dominant platforms, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. What do we need to do for a safer, fairer, and more sensible on-line environment?
Justice and transparency come first
The European Commission published two legislative proposals in mid-December last year. The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. Both are supposed to update the European digital environment. Among other things, they aim to address issues such as regulating dominant on-line platforms, content moderation on the Internet, liability for user-generated content, protecting privacy, or facilitating the transition from one platform to another. Both documents are part of a wider European digital strategy to straighten out the on-line environment.
Legislative proposal of the European Commission
The European Commission’s proposal named several problems that the European digital space suffers from among others. Nevertheless, several key parts concerning the future of the Internet were left out. For example, the proposal suggested transparency of targeted advertising, so that users know which advertising is targeted or who is paying for it. Sadly, it does not talk about a clear ban on advertising based on personal data abuse. Likewise, the proposal lacks obligations to control the removal or blocking of content by humans, which—combined with the absence of a ban on automatic filters—can lead to censorship on the Internet. Moreover, the anonymity of users reporting illegal content is not guaranteed. Lastly, the text also did not include support for encrypting communications ensuring the security of people in the on-line environment.
The European Commission’s proposal is now going to be discussed in the Council and in the European Parliament. Together with my colleagues, I will do my best to ensure rules on the Internet that respect privacy, ensure anonymity, prevent widespread surveillance and micro-targeted advertising as well. The new legislation also has to ensure securely encrypted communication. The fact that I became the shadow rapporteur for the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act, also gives me a great opportunity to incorporate the above into the legislation. The digital environment is our future, which is why we need to set the rules on the Internet fairly – for the whole of Europe and future generations.