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Big Tech faces major European Union law on hate speech, disinformation

The European Union (EU) is closing in on a new law that would force big tech companies to police themselves harder, make it easier for users to flag problems, and empower regulators to punish noncompliance with substantial fines.

EU officials negotiated into the late hours of Friday night over the final details of the Digital Services Act, which would overhaul the digital rulebook for 27 countries and cement Europe’s reputation as the global leader in reining in the power of social media companies and other digital platforms, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.

An agreement has not yet been announced, though several EU officials tweeting about the proceedings expressed optimism that things were getting close.

The act would be the EU’s third significant law targeting the tech industry, a notable contrast with the U.S., where lobbyists representing Silicon Valley’s interests have largely succeeded in keeping federal lawmakers at bay.

The EU’s new rules, which are designed to protect internet users and their “fundamental rights online,” would make tech companies more accountable for content created by users and amplified by their platforms’ algorithms.

“The DSA is nothing short of a paradigm shift in tech regulation. It’s the first major attempt to set rules and standards for algorithmic systems in digital media markets,” said Ben Scott, a former tech policy advisor to Hillary Clinton.

Once agreed to in principle, the law would still need to be approved by the European Parliament and European Council, though that is not expected to be a major hurdle. It has not been decided when the law would go into effect.

Under the EU law, governments would be able to request companies take down a wide range of content that would be deemed illegal, including material that promotes terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech and commercial scams. 

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter would have to give users tools to flag such content in an “easy and effective way” so that it can be swiftly removed. Online marketplaces like Amazon would have to do the same for products, such as counterfeit sneakers or unsafe toys.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CTV NEWS

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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