The European Commission plans to abolish the E-Commerce Directive and replace it by a new Digital Services Act. Details have been leaked recently. Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer comments:
In the worst case the Commission’s plans could make online platforms act as an ‘Internet police’ and ‘Internet censor’, and incentivize error-prone upload filters, which would violate the fundamental right to free speech. Unrealistic time frames for removing content could existentially threaten small and medium-sized businesses and non-commercial services. Governments prying on our online activities could put the confidentiality of our intimate passions and weaknesses at risk.
In the best case, however, wrong national legislation such as in Germany and France could be replaced and free speech online protected better, messaging services and social networks could be interconnected enhancing competition and user choice, and the right to use Internet services anonymously could be protected at EU level. Freedom of speech, consumer choice, the right to privacy and the principles of a global Internet need to be at the heart of any digital services regulation. It’s about our digital habitat. The Internet community is watching the Commission very carefully now.
Background: The Commission is trying to update the scope of the current E-Commerce Directive in order to include the maximum of digital services, from ISPs to social networks to advertising services and more. It is asking for a stricter liability regime similar to the one inluded in the Copyright Reform and the Terrorism Content Regulation. It wants automatic filters to be “transparent” and “accountable” and is asking for a common regime regarding the removal of online content. Cooperation with public authorities, including enforcement and tax authorities, by facilitating their access to data is also part of the proposed text. Last but not least, the Commission is considering the implementation of a public body, which would be responsible to oversee and enforce the application of the respective law.