Europe approves new law to protect platform users

European Union Parliament approves new laws to increase security for those using digital platforms; Check out what will change.

New rules seek to ensure the rights of those who use online services and reduce exposure to misleading content

The European Union has taken an important step towards creating a digital space with greater protection for users' rights. At the beginning of July, the European Parliament sealed its support The Digital Services Law (or Digital Services Act), which updates the operating rules of platforms that are operating in the block.

After this approval, the next step is the formal adoption of the new rules by the Council of the European Union. When this happens, they will come into force 20 days after publication in the European Official Gazette and can be applied throughout the bloc, 15 months later, or from 1O January 2024 (whichever is later). 

In the case of large platforms and search engines (such as Facebook and Google), however, the Digital Services Law will be applicable before, that is, four months after they are classified in these categories by the European Union. Anyone who violates the new regulation will face a heavy fine, corresponding to up to 6% of the company's global revenue.

The rules will only be valid for the European Union, but the proposed changes have the potential to change the landscape in other countries around the world and lead to new standards of transparency and security, according to the World Economic Forum.

What changes for users?

The aim of the changes in the law is to provide greater protection to consumers and their rights and to reduce exposure to illegal content, such as hate speech, terrorist content, child pornography and prohibited services, cases of smuggling or the sale of dangerous materials.

In everyday life, some practices that should change are:

  • Adoption of interfaces that are not confusing or induce users to make a targeted choice, which will facilitate, for example, the cancellation of digital services;
  • The biggest platforms will have to inform users, in a transparent way, how their recommendation algorithms work;
  • Users will be able to choose a recommendation system not based on their profile (which means seeing a feed on social media in chronological order, not in the order determined by the algorithm);
  • Offering simpler and clearer ways to report illegal content, goods or services on online platforms.

Freedom of expression

Another important point of the law is the reinforcement of the fundamental rights of European citizens, such as freedom of expression. Currently this does not happen because platforms can, for example, delete users' content without informing them or offering them the possibility of redress. 

In this case, what will change is that users will be notified and will be able to contest the removal of posts by the platforms. Furthermore, they will have access to dispute resolution mechanisms in their own country. 

In Europe, many people are concerned about the manipulation of the content they receive on platforms. In a survey carried out during the public consultation process of the Digital Services Act, 70% of the people interviewed stated that misinformation is spread due to the manipulation of algorithms.

Therefore, the new rules require platforms to be more transparent about content moderation rules and for larger ones to create systems to reduce the risk of spreading misinformation. Finally, some targeted ads will be prohibited, and users will be able to opt out of receiving content recommendations based on their profile creation.

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