S&D members in the European Parliament’s legal and consumer protection committees have stated their demands for a safer internet for users, ahead of the European Commission’s much-awaited presentation of the new Digital Services Act. The main purpose of this legislation must be to provide the same type of protection both online and offline. Moreover, S&Ds ask that foreign companies based abroad, such as Amazon, fully comply with European consumer laws.
Alex Agius Saliba, S&D negotiator on the Digital Services Act, said: “We live in a digital world where digital services have become the new utilities of our time. Their importance for our social and economic lives will only continue to grow and we need to catch up with those new realities by creating a digital environment built on trust, choice, and with a high level of protection for all consumers, citizens, and SMEs. For the first time, we are introducing at EU level new concepts, such as ‘Know Your Business Customer’, ex-ante rules for the digital sectors, special responsibilities for online market places to guarantee the safety of our consumers, stricter rules on targeted advertising and AI mechanisms and a scope that will encompass companies established even outside the EU. This report is a much needed step towards the improvement of digital services and providing a better and safer digital environment to our citizens and consumers.”
Christel Schaldemose, S&D spokeswoman on the internal market and consumer protection, said: ”Foreign companies that provide services to European consumers need to comply with the same rules as companies operating from within the EU. This is not the case today, and the coming legislation needs to address that.”
“With today’s vote, we take the first steps towards that end and we also include a range of other initiatives to secure the workings of the digital single market and protections of the consumer.”
“We have introduced the ‘Know Your Business Customer’ approach to reduce illegal content online. We have suggested a new framework for platform-to-consumer relations. This framework aims to secure transparency for the consumer through obligations to disclose the identity of advertisers. It also states that the consumer should have the default option of not being tracked or micro-targeted by advertisers online.”
Tiemo Wölken, S&D coordinator for legal affairs and EP rapporteur, said: “With digital services evolving every day, the rules that exist to make sure the digital sphere is fair and respects fundamental rights also need an update. Online platforms need clear rules and procedural standards on how to deal with content. The S&D Group does not want to put private companies in charge of policing the internet, but a clear notice and action system that provides legal clarity to platforms and guarantees the fundamental rights of users.”
“For the S&D Group, it is important that the law fully applies in the digital world, both in terms of access to justice and enforcement. For example, when content is deleted, we want to make sure users are able to seek legal redress through fair and independent dispute settlement bodies in member states. When online services are not complying with the rules, we want to make sure there is a body in place, like a European agency, that has the teeth it needs to enforce the rules, for example with fines.
“Rules on content management can also help limit the viral spread of hate speech and disinformation. We want to put users in charge of the content they see, rather than leave them at the mercy of profit-driven algorithms that prioritise attention-grabbing content. The best fight against harmful content is not censorship, but putting users in control of what content they are shown.”