Thierry Breton: “The relationship between citizens and the platform is rebalanced”

“We are facing a mountain, but we are at the top of the road,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, one of the leading architects of the first text. The Digital Services Act (DSA), digital services laws, adopted by 27 European Union countries on the night of Friday to Saturday should logically be adopted by the European Parliament in the autumn. “A formality” according to Thierry Breton, before being published in the official EU journal in early October and implemented in 2024.

The text then takes the major platforms – Google (Youtube), Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Amazon, Microsoft (LinkedIn), Apple, Twitter and likely TikTok – to take more responsibility for the content they host. The DMA’s twin sister, the Digital Markets Act, the digital markets law, was adopted on 27 March, and which regulates competition and advertising between digital players, will make it possible for the DSA to curb the many surpluses.

Dark standards are now banned. These are deceptive interfaces designed to trick a user into viewing content that does not match what is presented, to keep their attention on a site, or to manipulate it to obtain their personal data. .

Another development: GAFAM’s algorithms, hitherto opaque, should be accessible primarily to researchers, as recommended by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. Hate speech and illegal content will be subject to more stringent monitoring. If there is a request for withdrawal, (follow revenge porn for example) the requester must be notified of the status of his or her request almost in real time. Finally, each platform must appoint a legal representative accessible in Europe. “Legally, we will find out where he is. If there is a breach, we can no longer be powerless before the data tax haven, ”Thierry Breton explained. “The relationship between the citizens and the platform has been rebalanced. To date, no telephone number has reached GAFAM. We want to empower the citizens. Mission accomplished”, supported Margrethe Vestager who welcomed in “a remarkable negotiation between the 27”. “There are points that are open to negotiation, he agreed, but we don’t have red lines. We already have a real code of conduct. This is an unprecedented change in history.”

Royalty payments. The question of the modalities of application of this text arises today. As for the means, Thierry Breton suggested that the platforms themselves pay “a fee for the services provided”, similar to what already exists for the regulation of telecoms or railways. His proposal is endorsed in the final text. This tax, which amounts to 0.05% of the platform’s revenue, should bring in 30 million euros annually.

These receipts will allow the commission to recruit 150 “web inspectors”. “Data-scientists”, engineers who specialize in data analysis, with very special profiles: doctors of computer science or law, responsible if necessary, for breaking the hitherto kept secret of the algorithm. platform. “Very high level young people, we want to be hired at salaries not too far from the market price and permanent training”, concludes Thierry Breton. The first applications have arrived.

In each country, the national regulatory authority (In France, Arcom, Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication) will act as a parallel relay for the European Commission.

Citizens can more easily use class actions (class actions) if the platforms fail to fulfill their obligations. More restrained, they have a penalty of up to 6% of their turnover if there is a violation. But Europe could still go on: “If a platform exacerbates a situation of crisis, in the context of a pandemic or a war, Thierry Breton specifies, then the DSA empowers the Commission to temporarily ban access to this or that platform.In this case, only a simple majority of member states are needed to shut down the site.The procedure could have been as quick as last March, when 27 issued an order to disrupt the transmission of Russia Today channels and sites.The operation took place in three days.

“We have a switch in hand” concludes Thierry Breton. “The platforms need to understand that if they operate on European territory, they are with us, and not the other way around.»

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