European Commission receives mixed response to Digital Services and Digital Markets acts

The Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) represent the biggest revision of internet rules in 20 years, with the DSA introducing new rules for tech giants such as Facebook and Google.
Margrethe Vestager: European Commission Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

16 Dec 2020

Outlining the ambitious plans on Tuesday, Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the new rules will better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online “and will lead to fairer and more open digital markets for everyone.”

The two acts, they said, will prohibit unfair conditions imposed by online platforms and are at the core of the Commission’s ambition “to make this Europe's Digital Decade.”

Speaking at a news conference, Vestager said, “The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online. And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline.”

“This is one world. We should be able to do our shopping in a safe manner and trust the news we read. Because what is illegal offline is equally illegal online.”

Her comments were echoed by Breton, who said, “Many online platforms have come to play a central role in the lives of our citizens and businesses, and even our society and democracy at large.”

“With these proposals, we are organising our digital space for the next decades. With harmonised rules, ex ante obligations, better oversight, speedy enforcement, and deterrent sanctions, we will ensure that anyone offering and using digital services in Europe benefits from security, trust, innovation and business opportunities.”

“The DSA will give Europe a real digital constitution. Clear rules will ensure legal certainty for platforms and safeguard the fundamental rights of users. However, the proposal falls behind on some points”

Tiemo Wölken, S&D

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with Tiemo Wölken, S&D negotiator on the DSA report in Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, saying, “The DSA will give Europe a real digital constitution. Clear rules will ensure legal certainty for platforms and safeguard the fundamental rights of users. However, the proposal falls behind on some points.”

His colleague, Alex Agius Saliba, S&D negotiator on the DSA in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee, said, “The DSA and DMA should not work towards maximising tech giants’ huge profits but towards a safer digital space for all users, where fundamental rights and public interests, the users’ and consumers’ rights are protected online.”

Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloş “strongly” welcomed the proposals, adding, “We need to take the EU’s digital future into our own hands and this package is an important step to achieving this. No to the China model; no to the US model; yes to a European model.”

“With GDPR, the EU has set a new worldwide standard with its privacy legislation and it is time to do this again for digital services and platforms and restore the balance between the marketplace and its consumers.”

The Greens/EFA Group, however, believe the plans “fall short of expectations”, with Dutch deputy Kim van Sparrentak, a member of the IMCO Committee, saying, “We welcome the Commission's move to end the Wild West-style Internet giants and to make online platforms accountable for how they spread content and when they remove content from users.”

“The Commission, though, has failed to limit the market supremacy of the tech monopolies. Although there are some good proposals, the key issue isn’t being addressed: interoperability must become the standard for all communication platforms.”

“The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online. And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline” Margrethe Vestager, European Commission Executive Vice-President

Fellow Greens/EFA deputy Marcel Kolaja said, “These proposals do not touch upon the business model of spying on users and spreading hate and disinformation.”

Elsewhere, European Publishers Council Executive Director Angela Mills Wade believes the proposals “mark a really important moment for the future of the independent news media and for democracy in Europe.”

She adds, “They take a targeted approach to regulating the mega platforms, seek to inject fairness, transparency and competition into the digital single market and to tackle the important issues of liability and self-preferencing.”

“These new rules of the game including major changes for advertising and data, should give a huge boost to innovation and go some way to correcting the harmful market consolidation that has negatively impacted Europe’s media and information landscape.”

Raegan MacDonald, Mozilla’s head of public policy, said, “We’ve been involved in the development of these laws for a number of years now and are encouraged that many of our recommendations  for how the Commission could seize a one-in-a-generation opportunity have been taken on board.”

“The DSA’s transparency requirements are a major step forward, particularly its call for disclosure of all advertisements.”

On the DMA, she said, “At this early stage it appears the Commission has laid the groundwork for an ambitious new standard that could enhance consumer choice.”

“We will ensure that anyone offering and using digital services in Europe benefits from security, trust, innovation and business opportunities”

Thierry Breton, EU Internal Market Commissioner

More reaction came from Siada El Ramly, Director General of DOT Europe (formerly EDiMA), representing leading internet companies, who said, “This is a major piece of legislation and merits serious consideration and reflection on our part before we can give a detailed reaction.”

“At this stage, what we can say is that the DSA has enormous potential to make a mark for the EU in terms of setting the bar in digital policymaking. If developed and implemented in the right way, it should provide a more robust framework for online content moderation, providing legal certainty and the necessary assurances for stakeholders at large.”

Ourania Georgoutsakou, Secretary General of LightingEurope, commented, “The new Regulation must ensure that only safe, quality and compliant lighting products are placed on the EU market and must prevent the listing or re-listing of non-compliant products. The proposal acknowledges that online intermediaries need to do more to ensure non-compliant products are not made available to EU customers.”

Further comment came from Michelle Gibbons, Director General AIM, the European Brands Association, who noted, “Both the DSA and DMA should be seen as crucial opportunities for the EU to lead in addressing the challenges of the platform economy and boosting its opportunities for all, consumers and businesses.”

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