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Meta, Google, TikTok worried about EU Digital Services Act going into effect today

The EU Digital Services Act, which is kicking off this week, is bringing about significant changes in how the big players in the Internet world operate within Europe. It’s set to impact influential tech and social media giants such as Google, Facebook, and TikTok.

This marks a pivotal moment in regulating Internet giants. The DSA’s primary goal is to ensure online user safety and counteract the dissemination of harmful content, whether illegal or violating platform terms.

Additionally, it aims to safeguard fundamental rights for Europeans, including privacy and freedom of speech.

The EU has long held a leading role in scrutinizing tech giants, who must now adhere to the DSA’s regulations starting Friday. Non-compliance could result in substantial fines, potentially reaching billions of euros.

Everybody’s under the scanner.
Currently, 19 platforms are under its scope. Among these are eight social media platforms: Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Five online marketplaces are also affected: Amazon, Booking.com, China’s Alibaba AliExpress, and Germany’s Zalando.

Both mobile app stores, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, fall under the new regulations, as do Google’s Search and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Google Maps and Wikipedia are also included.

The platform’s number of users determines the EU’s list. Those with 45 million users or more will face the highest level of regulation outlined in the DSA.

However, some Brussels insiders have pointed out significant omissions from this list, including eBay, Airbnb, Netflix, and PornHub. Any business offering digital services to Europeans will eventually need to comply with the DSA.

Tech companies willing to comply with directives
Platforms are already introducing new methods for European users to report illegal online content and questionable products, which companies will be required to swiftly and impartially remove.

For instance, Amazon has created a new channel for reporting suspected illegal products and providing more information about third-party merchants.

TikTok has introduced an “additional reporting option” for users to flag potentially illegal content, including advertisements. A dedicated team of moderators and legal experts will assess whether the flagged content violates policies or is unlawful and should be taken down. The reason for removal will be communicated to both the content poster and the flagger, with the option to appeal decisions.

The DSA also forbids targeting vulnerable groups, including children, with ads.

Some are also resisting DSA.
Zalando, a German online fashion retailer, has filed a legal challenge against being categorized as one of the largest online platforms under the DSA. They argue that this classification is unfair.

The company, represented by Aurelie Caulier, Zalando’s head of public affairs for the EU, has expressed support for the DSA. She remarked that the regulation will bring about many positive changes for consumers. However, she noted that Zalando doesn’t pose the systemic risks that other platforms do, so they believe they don’t fit in the same category.

Amazon has also taken a similar action by filing a case with a top EU court.

Companies failing to adhere to the rules could face fines of up to 6 percent of their global revenue, potentially reaching billions. They could even face exclusion from the EU for non-compliance.

A grace period to get things started
However, immediate fines for individual breaches won’t be imposed. The DSA’s primary objective is to provide the EU with insights into companies’ algorithms to determine whether they have appropriate processes.

EU officials are concerned about user behavior, such as bullying, the spread of illegal content, and how platforms function and contribute to adverse effects.

Under the new rules, the most prominent platforms will be required to identify and assess potential systemic risks and demonstrate their efforts to mitigate them. These risk assessments are expected to be completed by the end of August and will subsequently undergo independent auditing.

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