Sweeping European rules for tech giants are about to go into effect — here’s how they work

LONDON – Google, Facebook, TikTok, and other big technology companies operating in Europe are facing one of the most far-reaching efforts to clean up what people experience online.

The first stage of the European Union Pioneering new digital rules It will go into effect this week. The Digital Services Act is part of a group of Technology focused regulations It was coined by the 27-country bloc – a longtime world leader Crackdown on tech giants.

DSA, which should be launched by the largest platforms after Friday, is designed to keep users safe online and Stop the spread of harmful content This is either illegal or violates the platform’s terms of service, such as promoting genocide or anorexia. It also looks forward to protecting the basic rights of Europeans such as privacy and freedom of expression.

Some online platforms, which could face billions in fines if they do not comply, have already started making changes. Here’s a look at What’s going on this week:

What platforms are affected?

So far, 19. It includes eight social media platforms: Facebook, TikTok, TwitterYouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

There are five online marketplaces: Amazon, and China’s Alibaba AliExpress German Zalando.

The Google Play and App Store mobile app stores, as well as the Google search engine and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, are subject to this.

Google Maps and Wikipedia complete the list.

What about other online businesses?

The EU list is based on numbers provided by the platforms. Those with 45 million or more users – or 10% of the EU’s population – will face the dynamic residence law. The highest level of organization.

However, the Brussels insider pointed out some notable omissions from the EU list, such as eBay, Airbnb, Netflix and even PornHub. The list is not final, and other platforms may be added later.

Any company providing digital services to Europeans will eventually have to do so DSA compliance. However, they will face fewer commitments than the largest platforms, and will have another six months before they commit.

Due to uncertainty about the new rules, Meta Platforms has postponed its launch Twitter competitor, Threadsin the European Union

What is changing?

The platforms are starting to roll out new ways for European users Report illegal content online and dodgy products, which companies will be obligated to remove promptly and objectively.

Amazon has opened a new channel for reporting suspected illegal products and provides more information about third-party merchants.

TikTok gave to users Additional “option to report” content, including ads, that they believe is illegal. categories such as hate speech and harassment, Suicide and self-harmMisinformation or scams and deceptions will help them identify the problem.

Then, a “new dedicated team of moderators and legal professionals” will determine if the flagged content violates its policies or is illegal and should be removed, according to The app from the parent Chinese company ByteDance.

TikTok says the reason for the removal will be explained to the person who posted the material and the person who reported it, and decisions can be appealed.

TikTok users can turn off systems that recommend videos based on what the user has previously watched. Such regimes have been blamed Which leads social media users to increasingly extremist posts. If personalized recommendations are turned off, TikTok feeds will instead suggest videos to European users based on what’s popular in their region and around the world.

DSA prohibits targeting vulnerable groups of peopleincluding children, with ads.

Snapchat said advertisers won’t be able to use the teen personalization and optimization tools in the EU and UK. Snapchatters 18 and over will also get more transparency and control over the ads they see, including “details and insights” about why they’re watching. Replay specific ads.

TikTok made similar changes. Prevent users between the ages of 13 and 17 from getting personalized ads “Based on their activities on or off TikTok.”

Is there a decline?

Zalando, a German online fashion retailer, has filed a lawsuit over its inclusion in DSA’s list of the largest online platforms, arguing that it is being treated unfairly.

However, Zalando launches content reporting systems for its website even though there is little risk of illegal material appearing among its highly curated collection of apparel, bags and shoes.

Aurelie Collier, head of public affairs for the European Union at Zalando, said the company supported DSA.

It will “bring a lot of positive changes” for consumers, she said. But “Overall, Zalando does not face the systemic risks (that other platforms pose). That’s why we don’t think we fall into that category.”

Amazon has filed a similar case with the Supreme Court of the European Union.

What happens if companies don’t follow the rules?

Officials have warned the tech companies that violations could result in fines of up to 6% of their global revenues – which could run into the billions – or even fines. ban from the European Union. But don’t expect immediate penalties for individual violations, such as failing to remove a specific video promoting hate speech.

Instead, the DSA is about whether technology companies have the appropriate processes in place to do so Reduce damage Which algorithm based recommendation systems can catch up with users. Essentially, they would have to let the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm and top digital outlet, look under the hood to see how their algorithms work.

EU officials “are concerned about user behavior on the one hand, such as bullying and posting illegal content, but they are also concerned about the way the platforms operate and how they contribute to negative impacts,” said Sally Bruton-Mikova, assistant professor at the European Union. at the University of East Anglia.

This includes looking at how platforms work with digital advertising systems, which can be used to expose users to malicious people Material such as misinformation“The websites that these companies use, or how their livestreaming systems operate, that can be used to instantly spread terrorist content,” said Proton Mikova, who is also associate academic director at the Center for Regulation in Europe, a Brussels-based think tank.

Under the rules, the largest platforms will have to identify and assess potential systemic risks and whether they are doing enough to reduce them. These risk assessments are scheduled to take place by the end of August, after which they will be independently audited.

Audits are expected to be the main tool for checking compliance – although the EU plan has faced criticism for its lack of detail that makes it unclear how the process will work.

What about the rest of the world?

The changes in Europe could have a global impact. Wikipedia is tweaking some policies and amending its terms of service to provide more information about “problematic users and content”. The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the community encyclopedia, said these edits would not be limited to Europe.

“The rules and processes governing Wikimedia projects around the world, including any changes in response to the DSA, are as global as possible. This means that changes to our Terms of Use and our Office Procedure Policy will be implemented globally.

It will be difficult for technology companies to curb changes associated with online digital advertising, Proton Mikova said, adding that digital advertising networks are not isolated from Europe and that social media influencers can have a global reach.

The regulations “deal with multi-channel networks that operate globally. So there will be a ripple effect once you put in some kind of mitigation,” she said.

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