ECR Group on the Digital Services Act

Strengthening the protection of freedom of expression, balanced traceability of traders, and increased transparency of all service providers.

The Digital Services Act (DSA), adopted today by the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), will protect freedom of expression, increase trust in online services and contribute to an open digital economy in Europe, even though there is still room for improvement”, said the ECR Shadow Rapporteur, Polish MEP Adam Bielan. “The new set of rules for the digital space, including social media, online marketplaces and other online players offering services in the European Union creates a new framework to counter the proliferation of illegal content online, and gives individual users the power to challenge platforms’ arbitrary decisions. However, “in some parts, the text lack legal clarity. This needs to be addressed in the plenary and, if necessary, in the trilogues”, Mr. Bielan said.

Mr Bielan added:

“On the whole, we have a good proposal on the table: There was a need to define when platforms should step in to tackle the illegal content. There must be clarity, so that users are preserved from the unilateral restriction of their freedom of expression.

“In addition, regulation must be watertight when it comes to reducing potential spillover effects of transferring responsibility for illegal content to entities that have no direct control over it. In the case of cloud providers, this could mean the deletion of entire websites, with huge consequences on the way the internet works today.”

Mr Bielan strongly advocated to expand the list of content moderation actions that can be challenged by users to the so-called shadowbanning. These efforts are reflected in the increase of remedies available to users outside the complaint management systems offered by platforms.

“Thanks to the ECR amendments, in article 9a on restoring the content and in Article 17 on a possibility to introduce a redress mechanism outside the platform’s internal complaint management system, Internet users will eventually gain access to a robust tools strengthening their position”, Mr. Bielan commented.

No ban on targeted advertising

The ECR Group is relieved that a full ban on targeted advertising was avoided.

Mr. Bielan said: We recognise that targeted advertising offers opportunities for SMEs, but it can also be beneficial for users. Nevertheless, we keep advocating for additional transparency so that users remain in control. In this context, we are glad that we managed to preserve common sense by avoiding the introduction of a complete ban and argue against playing games in interpreting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the Digital Services Act, which would have led to legal chaos and uncertainty.”

Nevertheless, the ECR Group seeks further improvements via plenary amendments and in the upcoming trilogue.

According to Mr Bielan, while the proposal recognises specific categories of big online platforms, it still does not sufficiently distinguish between social networks and other types of platforms. It is thus more difficult to shift the enforcement of regulations to the countries where the social network designated as a very large online platform offers its services. Furthermore, the term “online social networking service” remains without a precise definition.

“I doubt that some rules are actually fit for the purpose and certainly belong to other legal acts. We should not force change on digital business models, but rather recognise the important role that established marketplaces play for consumers as well as for the SME-led economy, particularly in pandemic times”, Mr Bielan said.

Overall, Mr Bielan supports the horizontal nature of the proposal. “We are trying to improve the digital space and make it more user friendly, not to alter its fundamentals or solve every other issue troubling online space. I regret that some of the colleagues in the Parliament constantly forget about it”, Bielan added.

The text has been adopted with 36 votes in favour, 7 against and 2 abstentions.

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