The European Union is working on more Big Tech regulations that could affect users in the US and elsewhere.
On Saturday, the EU Announced that its Parliament and member states have agreed to a sweeping new set of laws collectively called the Digital Services Act, or DSA. Once approved, big tech companies like Google and Meta would be forced to reveal how their algorithms work, change their approaches to targeted advertising, and more. The EU will have a final vote on the DSA once the language is finalized, with the law taking place 15 months after the vote or early 2024, whichever is later.
The list of provisions in the DSA is long and covers many things about how Big Tech companies operate, but some of the highlights include:
Enforced transparency about how content algorithms work, like the Facebook newsfeed.
The ability for users to appeal content moderation decisions, such as post removals.
Unspecified “mechanisms” for large platforms like Google to adapt during public safety or health crises
No more targeted advertising based on sexuality, religion, or ethnicity, and no more ads targeting minors.
Obviously all of that would have big effects on those of us who use the internet on a daily basis. Many people would love to peek behind the curtain at the Facebook algorithm, for example. And the ability to appeal the removal of your posts if they don’t actually violate any laws or terms of service rules would also be nice.
It’s been a busy spring for the EU’s tech law groups. Last month, another tentative deal was reached in a bill that would no longer allow companies like Apple to give preferential treatment to their own apps on their devices. In other words, your iPhone will no longer assume that you want to use Safari; and iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp could communicate with each other.
Finally, while the DSA is a European law, Big Tech companies might be inclined to simply adopt the rules globally to save time and energy creating different sets of rules for different regions. Lots of provisions from the huge General Data Protection Regulation The law in 2018 made its way into the United States, for example. That said, regional exclusions are also not unheard of; SiriusXM provides Californians (and only Californians) with a way to manage their personal data because it is required to do so by state law.
Let’s hope tech companies take the lazier route and apply the same rules everywhere if the DSA passes.