The European Parliament has approved two new laws that are considered to be landmark tech rules intended to make the internet safer and fairer for businesses and consumers.
MEPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose, rapporteur for the DSA, described the digital world as “a Wild West, with the biggest and strongest setting the rules”. In fact the DSA is designed to put the onus on online platforms to do more to fight illegal online content.
New laws to enter into force in 2023
The new laws, which are expected to enter into force in 2023, are intended to address major challenges such as the spread of disinformation, electoral interference, and the extreme concentration of power in the hands of a few multinationals such as Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google, Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Facebook and Microsoft (MSFT.O).
Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who has long been working on both the DSA and the DMA, said that Europe has once again shown to be “the champion and shaper of a better digital global world”.
Empowering people to take back control of the internet
The rules are designed to ensure that what is illegal offline should also be illegal online, said the Maltese MEP, adding that “the new rules have fulfilled our expectations to empower people and to take back control of the internet”.
“We will finally moved away from a purely advertisement-centric and surveillance-based model to rules focusing on people’s interests in accessing and sharing high quality content and information.”
Markets will be made more contestable and more innovative
German MEP Andreas Schwab, who served as rapporteur for the DMA, highlighted the importance of ‘choice’, saying that users buying a new phone or a new computer will have the choice of what browser and virtual assistant to use, for instance. “All of this will make markets more contestable and therefore better and more innovative.”
Concerns over enforcement of new rules
And while this sound like great news for consumers, it is yet to be seen whether regulators will be equipped with the necessary resources to be able to enforce the new rules.
Companies face fines of up to 10% of annual global turnover for DMA violations and 6% for DSA breaches.
But the taskforce set up by the European Commission, expected to be made up of about 80 officials, has been considered inadequate.
Legislation could be hamstrung by ineffective enforcement
The European Consumer Organisation said in a statement: “We raised the alarm with other civil society groups that if the Commission does not hire the experts it needs to monitor Big Tech’s practices in the market, the legislation could be hamstrung by ineffective enforcement”.