European Parliament gives initial approval to rules that would change big tech data collection, advertising

The European Union took a significant step Thursday toward passing legislation that could transform the way major technology companies operate, requiring them to police content on their platforms more aggressively and introducing new restrictions on advertising, among other provisions.

The legislative arm of the 27-nation bloc voted overwhelmingly to give initial approval to the sprawling regulations set forth in the landmark Digital Services Act.

The legislation is the most aggressive attempt yet to regulate big tech companies as the industry comes under greater international scrutiny. It could serve as a model for lawmakers in the United States who say they, too, want to rein in the businesses’ digital practices.

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MEPs adopt Digital Services Act with significant last-minute changes
A large majority of MEPs voted in favour of the Digital Services Act on Thursday (20 January), after plenary amendments introduced important changes to the text. The DSA is horizontal legislation for the digital single market, with transparency requirements and due diligence obligations proportionate to the size of the service provider.

The DSA is horizontal legislation for the digital single market, with transparency requirements and due diligence obligations proportionate to the size of the service provider.

“We have an opportunity to create a new global golden standard for tech-regulation that will inspire other countries and regions,” said Christel Schaldemose, the leading MEP on the file.

EU Parliament agrees on proposal to take on U.S. tech giants
The European Parliament on Thursday signed off on a proposal for new rules aimed at U.S. tech giants, paving the way for talks on the plan with member countries and the European Commission.

The Digital Services Act, a proposal from EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, would force Amazon , Apple, Alphabet unit Google and Facebook owner Meta to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms or risk fines up to 6% of global turnover.

Digital Services Act: regulating platforms for a safer online space for users [news release]
MEPs agreed a draft set of measures to tackle illegal content, to ensure platforms are held accountable for their algorithms, and improve content moderation.

The text approved today by Parliament with 530 votes to 78, with 80 abstentions, will be used as the mandate to negotiate with the French presidency of the Council, representing member states.

After the vote, Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK), who is leading the Parliament’s negotiating team, said: “Today’s vote shows MEPs and EU citizens want an ambitious digital regulation fit for the future. Much has changed in the 20 years since we adopted the e-commerce directive. Online platforms have become increasingly important in our daily life, bringing new opportunities, but also new risks. It is our duty to make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online. We need to ensure that we put in place digital rules to the benefit of consumers and citizens. Now we can enter into negotiations with the Council, and I believe we will be able to deliver on these issues”.

Protecting consumers from misleading reviews: 55% of screened websites violate EU law
Today, the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities released the results of an EU-wide website screening (“sweep”) on online consumer reviews. Under the coordination of the Commission, authorities of 26 Member States, Iceland and Norway checked 223 major websites for misleading consumer reviews. Almost two thirds of the online shops, marketplaces, booking websites, search engines and comparison service sites analysed, triggered doubts about the reliability of the reviews: In 144 out of the 223 websites checked, authorities could not confirm that these traders were doing enough to ensure that reviews are authentic, i. e. that they were posted by consumers that actually used the product or service that they reviewed.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “Consumers very often rely on online reviews when shopping or booking online. I don’t want consumers to be tricked. I want them to be able to interact in a trustworthy environment. I insist on one specific point: online businesses must provide consumers with clear and visible information on the reliability of such reviews. Today’s results are a clear call for action. We will ensure EU law is respected”.

EXPLAINER: How sweeping EU rules would curb tech companies
Online companies would have to ramp up efforts to keep harmful content off their platforms and take other steps to protect users under rules that European Union lawmakers approved Thursday.

The 27-nation bloc has gained a reputation as a trendsetter in the growing global push to rein in big tech companies facing withering criticism over misinformation, hate speech and other harmful content on their platforms.

Here’s a look at the draft EU rules, known as the Digital Services Act, and why they would make an impact:

Speech by Executive Vice-President Vestager on the Digital Services Act
Dear President, Honourable Members, Following the successful debate and vote for the Digital Markets Act, I look forward to today’s debate on the Parliament’s position on the Digital Services Act.

Speech by Commissioner Breton on the Digital Services Act
Madam President, Honourable Members of Parliament, I am delighted to be here today to debate a proposal that is particularly close to my heart and which, as you know, has occupied me since the first day I took office: the Digital Services Act.

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