The legislation applies to any digital operation serving the EU, forcing them to be legally accountable for everything from fake news to manipulation of shoppers, Russian propaganda and criminal activity including child abuse. It also applies to large and small operators, but the rules are tiered, with the toughest obligations applying to 17 companies including Facebook and Amazon that have been designated as "very large online platforms," and two "very large online search engines:" Google and Bing.
EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton posted on X on the day the act was put into effect, expressing his excitement for a "safer internet for everyone."
"These systemic platforms play a very important role in our daily lives — so it was time for the EU to set our own rules," he said in the caption.
Today, the Digital Services Act — #DSA — becomes legally enforceable for Very Large Online Platforms & Search Engines.
These systemic platforms play a very important role in our daily lives — so it was time for the EU to set our own rules.
A safer Internet for everyone ?? pic.twitter.com/fGPCERx5mW
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) August 25, 2023
There are five key issues covered in the new legislation, including online disinformation and other "societal risks." First is that the online platforms are obliged to combat the sale of illegal products and services, which will affect Amazon and Facebook Marketplace among others. It also provided that there are new measures designed to crack down on illegal content, including Russian propaganda, interference with elections, hate crimes, and online harms including harassment and child abuse, and ensure that fundamental rights recognized by law across Europe, including freedom of expression and data protection, are safeguarded.
DSA also provided that platforms are prohibited from targeting children with advertising based on their personal data or cookies, requiring them to redesign their systems to ensure a "high level of privacy, security, and safety of minors" as well as their content “recommender systems” to reduce risks to children. The tech giants are also ordered to steer clear from the use of sensitive personal data including race, gender, and religion for targeting users with adverts.
Lastly, for the protection of shoppers from everyday interfaces used to manipulate them into buying things they don't need or want, "dark patterns" or persuasion marketing techniques are banned.
However, ZeroHedge's Tyler Durden pointed out that the legislation is actually a tool for the EU to "rein in" the power of social media corporations. Its primary purpose is to give the EU legal precedence to force Big Tech companies to apply censorship standards to their platforms, regardless if they are European-based or not. (Related: Big Government selling unconstitutional censorship tools to Big Tech to override First Amendment and silence all voices of dissent.)
Those who do not comply with the Act would face sanctions including large fines, which could run into hundreds of millions of euros. An EU-wide ban is also possible.
There is a possibility that the newly executed DSA could ban in Europe even an EU-censored version of X, formerly Twitter, not because of information shared by Europeans, but because of information shared on X outside of Europe. "These rules would include EU 'hate speech' and 'disinformation' restrictions. "Keep in mind that in many parts of Europe using the wrong pronouns for a trans person is considered punishable hate speech, and pointing out that medical masks are useless for stopping COVID-19 transmission is considered dangerous disinformation. Scientific facts don't play into such determinations, they are purely political," Durden stresses in the article.
According to him, X CEO and tech mogul Elon Musk and his platform have been cited as targets of the DSA, and some argue that the DSA was specifically created by the EU in preparation for Musk's eventual takeover of the massive platform. The political and economic union officials even publicly argued that they would find a way to force Musk to conform to their political taboos.
X was one of several dozen signatories to the EU's "2022 Strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation," a self-regulatory framework for addressing disinformation tied to the DSA. When a company becomes a signatory, it submits a subscription document identifying which Commitments (and, more specifically, which Measures) it is signing up for. The microblogging site's June 2022 subscription document indicates that the platform has committed to: "defund the dissemination of disinformation and misinformation," "prevent the misuse of advertising systems to disseminate misinformation or disinformation," and "put in place or further bolster policies to address both misinformation and disinformation."