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European citizens need stronger measures online

THE EUROPEAN Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has responded to the EU proposal for a "Digital Services Act" (DSA). The EU Commission describes its goals in this measure thus: "responsibilities of users, platforms, and public authorities are rebalanced according to European values, placing citizens at the centre".

The EFJ welcomes this, but:

  • regrets the fact that the DSA does not sufficiently set limits on "Big Tech" business models based on the massive collection of personal data, profiling and targeted advertising.
  • regrets that the DSA does not address the excessive power of "Big Tech" over information flows (in addition to content moderation rules, we need rules to open the markets to new platforms and to multiply the channels of public discourse and journalistic content).
  • demands that fair and non-discriminatory distribution of all digital press and publications on gatekeeper platforms must be ensured.
  • reminds the EU Commission and Parliament that online platforms monetise on content that is produced by journalists. However these journalists don’t get their share of the incomes. The DSA should put forward concrete proposals which strive for equitable share of revenues and promote fair redistribution systems.

This is important to us in the UK because the EU is at the forefront of a global swell of opinion among law-makers that something needs to be done about the power of those "platforms" - not always mentioning any Google, Facebook or Amazon in particular. Whatever measure the EU passes will influence law-making elsewhere.

Those platforms have enough power that they may manage to circumvent the requirements of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. These include transparency about the use made of journalists' work, a right to challenge unfair contracts, and an obligation on the platforms to lay licence fees covering work their users upload. The anti-monopoly powers in the proposed DSA may well be required to make these work.

Do read the whole EFJ statement, linked below.