MEP Patrick Breyer demands: The Digital Services Act must become a bulwark against surveillance capitalism and internet censorship

This week, the European Parliament will vote on three seperate reports on the Digital Services Act, positioning itself towards the Commission, which plans to present a first draft law in December 2020. With this legislative package, the EU wants to create a clear legal framework to regulate the power of the big internet platforms and the monopolies of the American tech industry in Europe.

Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), Rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs, comments:

„In all documents, the European Parliament is calling on the Commission to effectively protect our privacy online. The Digital Services Act needs to contain strict sector-specific rules to prevent personal data misuse and identity theft. Citizens shall be given the right to use internet services anonymously, and the permanent recording of our digital life shall come to an end. With the Digital Services Act, Europe must enforce freedom of expression instead of accepting censorship machines, privacy instead of surveillance capitalism and self-determination instead of technological paternalism!“

Breyer‘s second priority is to enforce freedom of expression in view of the widespread deployment of error-prone upload filters:

„The current rules exclude a legal obligation to generally monitor users for potentially unlawful behaviour online. But we need to expand this exclusion to rule out content filters. These unreliable censorship algorithms suppress countless legal speech (overblocking), and underpaid platform moderators cannot compensate for this. Law enforcement is the government‘s job and nobody else‘s!“

Furthermore quasi-monopolists such as Facebook or Twitter shall allow exchanging messages with alternative platforms in order to enable switching platforms while maintaining existing contacts (interconnectivity).

The Digital Services Act has fundamental effects on the future of digital services and online platforms

The upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA) is considered the next major project to regulate digitisation at EU level, after the general data protection regulation (GDPR) and the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. The legislative project is intended to replace the e-commerce directive, which has been in force since 2000, and thus establish fundamentally new rules for commercial Internet services.

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