On Tuesday, EU lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA), two bills aimed squarely at reining in Big Tech.
“The two bills aim to address the societal and economic effects of the tech industry by setting clear standards for how they operate and provide services in the EU, in line with the EU’s fundamental rights and values,” the European Parliament announced. “The Digital Services Act was adopted with 539 votes in favor, 54 votes against, and 30 abstentions. The Digital Markets Act – with 588 in favor, 11 votes against, and 31 abstentions.”
The Digital Services Act (DSA) sets clear obligations for digital service providers, such as social media or marketplaces, to tackle the spread of illegal content, online disinformation, and other societal risks, the EU says. It obligates technology platforms to enact new measures to counter illegal content online and to do so quickly, improve transparency with regards to content moderation and automated content recommendations while giving users the ability to challenge moderation decisions, and bans the use of misleading and targeted advertising such as the use of so-called “dark patterns.” And platform with 45 million or more monthly active users will have to adhere to even stricter regulations.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) requires large online platforms that act as “gatekeepers” to ensure a fairer business environment and offer more services for consumers. This includes requiring them to open up their services to third parties to give users more choice, and to allow business users to access their own data generated on the gatekeepers’ platforms. Most importantly, the DMA prevents platform makers from favoring their own services over those of rivals or partners, requires them to allow their customers to easily uninstall any preloaded software/apps and to use rival apps and app stores, and forgo using personal data for targeted ads unless consent is explicitly granted.
“To ensure that the new rules on the DMA are properly implemented and in line with the dynamic digital sector, the [European] Commission can carry out market investigations,” the announcement adds. “If a gatekeeper does not comply with the rules, the Commission can impose fines of up to 10 percent of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year, or up to 20 percent in case of repeated non-compliance.”
The new bills will be formally adopted by the European Council in July (DMA) and September (DSA), respectively, and both acts will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force twenty days after publication.