3 improvements to the Digital Services Act


The EU is working on new legislation, the Digital Services Act (DSA), which has the potential to become a new benchmark for platform regulation. To be effective, the DSA must recognize the power that online platforms have to select and promote content to users and establish rules regarding appropriate platform behavior.

As the EBU, we cannot stress enough how important third-party platforms have become for our Members to share their news and editorial content online. In fact, a recent EBU study shows that 100% of the 50 public service media organizations surveyed find social media use important or very important, highlighting the crucial role platforms play vis-à-vis media. .

As the DSA has entered its final stage of negotiation, we believe the time has come for a final push to enable the legislation to achieve its goal of creating a safer, more transparent and more responsible. How can we do it?

  1. Hold platforms accountable for media freedom and media standards
    Until now, global online platforms have moderated editorial content and services based on their own (unilaterally imposed) terms and conditions. This means removing individual pieces of content, blocking entire business accounts, and setting limits for accessing content and services on a whim. This means that they have become a serious obstacle to the editorial reach of public service media, which, as we have seen above, depend on these platforms. We don’t see the local press agent cutting out stories he doesn’t like at the newsstand, so why should that be allowed online? The DSA will set minimum requirements for how online platforms must write and enforce their terms and conditions. The final text must contain, at the very least, respect for media freedom and the rules applicable to European media, as the European Parliament rightly proposes. The DSA would not be complete without the establishment of specific procedures and direct communication channels allowing the media to react quickly to the arbitrary removal of content.
  2. Increase online security and transparency
    Online platforms control who sees what online, so it is essential that they adhere to basic transparency requirements. For example, when users search for content through voice assistants, there are “recommendation systems” behind the results provided by the voice assistant. How these results are selected should be clearer to the user and editor. Ensuring proper brand attribution helps users understand where content, services and products come from. They help users make informed decisions about what to believe or buy online and discourage illegal activity. At this time, the latest DSA proposal goes no further than mandating brand attribution in online marketplaces, which we believe falls short.
  3. Ensure that secure sectoral laws and member state prerogatives are not compromised
    The DSA will be a broad set of horizontal rules, but these must not affect sectoral EU legislation. It should also be clarified that the DSA does not affect the competence of Member States to regulate matters related to cultural diversity and media pluralism. If the DSA fails to clarify these interconnections, it may ultimately create overlaps or even undermine regulatory achievements in the media sector.

We will actively defend these principles as the final negotiations progress. We believe that the DSA can be a powerful tool to protect EU fundamental rights online, in particular freedom of the media and freedom of expression. Together with the adjustments listed above, this can make the internet a safer and more transparent place, limiting the power of online platforms to control what we see and why.

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