The DSA, also known as the Digital Services Act, is considered to be the next major project for shaping the digital revolution by the EU after the General Data Protection Regulation. The EU Commission’s goal is to establish new rules for online platforms, especially for very large ones, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Airbnb, or Booking.com with the DSA.
I am the Civil Liberties Committee’s rapporteur for the fundamental rights implications of the proposal (Opinion provided by the LIBE Committee). This includes the responsibility for managing the process to draw up the Committee’s opinion, partcipation in the leading IMCO Committee’s negotiations on the proposal as well as in the final trilogue negotiations with Council and Commission next year.
What is it about:
The Digital Services Act (DSA) provides Europe with the chance to set global standards. The DSA will regulate the free exchange of opinions online, our choices as consumers, the right to privacy, and the basic principles of a global Internet. The rights and freedoms of citizens must be placed at the center of the new framework. Digital communications have the immense potential to allow everyone to have a voice, to mobilise and to connect globally – but they can also pose a very real threat to fundamental rights, our democracies and our economies. Therefore, the DSA must tackle the root of the problem and the harmful surveillance capitalist business models for the online world.
I have criticised the Commission’s proposal for failing short of addressing the challenges, but in some respects it would make things even worse. It encourages the use of error-prone upload filters and other instruments of privatised surveillance and control by platforms. It labels anonymity (“inauthentic use”) a risk.
My key aims:
- Automated censorship algorithms (upload filters) must be banned. Automated upload filters are often unable to distinguish between illegal and legal content where legality depends on context or the publisher’s intention. Unfortunately, the Commission’s proposal lacks a ban on error-prone upload filter censorship engines, which could even be made mandatory for large platforms.
- Content removal orders shall require a court order and shall not affect content legally published abroad: to prevent authoritarian governments from applying national censorship legislation that violates fundamental rights throughout the EU.
- Put an end to surveillance capitalism: Individuals’ online activities allow deep insights into their personalities and open the door to manipulation and influence. The collection and exploitation of our online activities must, therefore, be limited to what is strictly necessary to provide digital services. Behavioral advertising should be phased out
- Users shall have a right to use digital services anonymously wherever possible. Anonymous use of digital services successfully inhibits the illicit disclosure of data, identity theft, and other forms of misuse of personal data, which was collected online and protects vulnerable users against discrimination.
- Users should be given control over the algorithms prioritising the information that is presented to them in timelines etc. in order to contain the algorithm-driven spreading of problematic content. Since commercial platforms have an interest in displaying as many advertisements as possible, their algorithms tend to recommend sensationalist and extreme content to keep users online, resulting in the spread of conspiracy theories, disinformation and hate speech. By allowing users to choose external algorithms for sorting their timelines, content would be recommended based on what users truly want or don’t want to see (rather than the platform’s commercial interests)
- Give users a right to cross-platform exchange of information (interoperability) to ensure a diverse online ecosystem and users’ freedom of choice: My goal is for users to be able to communicate with each other via different services (e.g. social networks). For example, interoperability means that people can follow Facebook or Twitter accounts and react to them via alternative platforms. True interoperability should enable a competitive market for the most innovative services and allow users to leave dominant platforms while still keeping in touch with their contacts.
Timetable of negotiations
Explanation: On the Digital Services Act, the Parliament’s IMCO Committee has the lead and will propose the Parliament’s draft position. Other associated committees, such as the LIBE, JURI and ITRE committee will provide opinions on the legislation with regard to their respective field of competence to the leading IMCO Committee. I am the rapporteur for the LIBE Committee’s Opinion, covering primarily the fundamental rights aspects of the proposed legislation.
First Shadows Meeting of the Committee on Civil Libertires, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 10 May 2021
- Presentation of Draft Report of the Committee on Civil Libertires, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 3 June 2021
- Presentation of Draft Report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE Committee): 17 June 2021
- Presentation of Draft Report of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO Committee): 21 June 2021
- Second Shadows Meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 22 June 2021
- Third Shadows Meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 30 June 2021
- Fourth Shadows Meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 7 July 2021
- Vote on the Report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee): 14 July 2021
- Vote on the Report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE Committee): 27 September 2021
- Vote on the Report of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO Committee): 8 November 2021
- Vote on the Parliament’s Position to enter trilogue negotiations (Plenary): December 2021
- Trilogue with Council and Commission: 2022
- My LIBE Draft Opinion on the Digital Services Act
- Draft Opinion of the IMCO Committee (1 June 2021)
- Commission Proposal: Digital Services Act (December 2020)
- European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Opinion (February 2021)
Position papers (document pool):