The European Parliament has approved two legislative initiative reports calling on the European Commission to address the current regulatory gaps in the Digital Services Bill (known as the DSA, Digital Services Act) which will be presented in December and with which the EU intends to establish rules

Parliament calls for rules for digital services that do not become obsolete in the short term and a binding mechanism to deal with illegal online content.

In short, these are rules that concern large platforms, which perform a market access control function.

The European Parliament’s request is to have better protection for consumers from illegal, counterfeit and unsafe products, to have stricter rules for targeted advertising and more online content controls, and to achieve compliance with future EU rules by non-EU service providers.

The current EU rules on digital services have remained substantially unchanged since the adoption of the Ecommerce Directive adopted 20 years ago.

Stop online illegality and private censorship

All digital service providers from third countries will be required to comply with the rules on digital services, when their services also address consumers or users within the EU.

MEPs call for a mechanism for notification and binding action to be established so that users can notify potential illegal content or activities to intermediaries.

This mechanism should help intermediaries to react quickly and be more transparent in relation to actions taken against potentially illegal content.

Users must be able to appeal through a national dispute resolution body.

The European Parliament also calls for a distinction to be made between illegal content and harmful content, since the legal liability regime should cover illegal content only as defined by Community or national law.

Platforms should avoid introducing filters on uploaded content or any form of ex ante content control, for harmful or illegal content, because the final decision on the lawful or non-legal nature of content should be made by an independent legal body and not by private companies.

Harmful content, hate speech and misinformation should be countered by an obligation to increase transparency and digital and media literacy.

Customer knowledge becomes standard

The European Parliament intends to say that the principle that what is illegal offline is illegal online too is illegal, as well as consumer protection and user safety, should become the guiding principles of the digital service legislation.

Digital services and brokerage platforms must improve their ability to detect and remove false statements and counter dishonest traders, such as those who sell false medical devices or dangerous products, as happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MEPs also call for the introduction of the new principle, Know Your Business Customer, which provides that platforms control and block fraudulent companies that use their services to sell illegal and unsafe products and content.

In addition, specific rules must be presented to prevent market failures caused by large digital platforms.

These requests, submitted by the Internal Market Commission, were approved by the European Parliament by 571 votes to 26 with 94 abstentions.

A limit to algorithms and targeted advertising

The European Parliament wants to ensure that users are given greater control over the content they are exposed to online, enabling them to disable the automatic selection of content and make them less dependent on algorithms.

Targeted advertising must be more strictly regulated in favour of less invasive and contextualised advertising that requires fewer data and does not depend on a previous interaction of users with content.

In doing so, it calls on the EU Commission to assess options for regulating targeted advertising, including a gradual elimination that results in a ban.

European law should provide for the right to use digital services anonymously. And of course, we will need a European entity to monitor and impose sanctions.

The request made by the European Parliament’s Legal Commission was approved by 637 votes to 26 with 28 abstentions.

Fundamental rights online

A third non-legislative resolution, tabled by the Committee on Civil Liberties, is centred on fundamental rights.

The European Parliament calls on digital service providers to withdraw content from the network in a Historic, proportionate and non-discriminatory manner with the aim of safeguarding freedom of expression and information, as well as privacy and protection of personal data.

The problematic nature of micro-targeting based on features that expose physical or psychological vulnerabilities, as it spreads incitement to hatred and disinformation, and calls for transparency in the policies of monetization of online platforms.

This resolution was adopted by 566 votes to 45, with 80 abstentions.

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