The European Union (EU) has approved a new bill that would force major technology companies such as Meta, Google and Twitter to serve illegal content on their platforms. In case of violation of the law, they will risk paying fines of billions of euros.
After about 16 hours of negotiations, the EU reached an agreement early Saturday in Brussels on the Digital Services Act (Digital Services Act or simply DSA), a landmark law that requires companies to be very aggressive in controlling their content and to quickly delete anything that is deemed harmful or illegal.
"Our new regulations will protect internet users, ensure freedom of expression and business opportunities." said on Twitter EU President Ursula von der Leyen.
"What is illegal offline will be illegal on the internet in the EU. A strong message to people, businesses and countries around the world."
The historic vote has come one year after the introduction of the DSA and DMA law (Digital Markets Act from the Digital Markets Act) in the European Parliament. The EU approved them in a bid to limit the power of large technology companies in marketing. The EU Reported that the bill is the first in the world to target digital regulation.
"The aim is to protect the digital space from the dissemination of illegal content and to ensure the protection of users' fundamental rights," the EU said. Platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU will be subject to the new legislation.
A critical part of the law restricts the way in which large technology companies target users with online advertising. The DSA will prevent platforms from targeting users with algorithms that use data based on their gender, race, or religion. In addition, targeting children with ads was completely banned.
New EU legislation affecting popular Facebook and Instagram content platforms owned by Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube is coming to the fore as lawmakers in the United States continue to tackle the same companies.
EU legislation has received praise on the other side of the Atlantic. "It's a great moment for technology politics around the world." said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, based in San Francisco, a non-profit advocacy group for children and families.
In a statement, Steyer said the law is "a milestone in the global fight to protect children and families from the harms of the Internet by these unregulated platforms."
"European lawmakers have taken a big step to make the Internet safer for children and teens. Legislators here need to look in the mirror and act quickly to protect our children and our democratic future. "Now is the time for Congress and the Biden administration."