European Union limits targeted advertising and content algorithms under new law

After a 16-hour marathon negotiation session, the European Union reached an agreement early Saturday to adopt Digital Services Act. The law seeks to impose greater accountability on the world’s tech giants by enforcing new obligations that companies of all sizes must comply with after the act became law in 2016. 2024. Like Digital Markets Act Before that, the DSA could have far-reaching effects, some of which could extend beyond Europe.

Although the European Commission has yet to publish the final text of the Digital Services Act, the Commission detailed some of its provisions on Saturday. Most notably, the law prohibits ads that target individuals based on their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or political affiliation. Companies also cannot serve ads targeted to minors.

Another part of the rule specifies recommendation algorithms. Online platforms like Facebook will need to be transparent about how those systems work to display content to users. They will also need to offer “non-profiling-based” alternative systems, meaning more platforms will need to provide a chronological feed. In addition, some of the largest platforms today will be required to share “primary” data with vetted researchers and NGOs so that these groups can provide insights into “how online risk evolves”.

“Today’s agreement on the Digital Services Act is historic, both in terms of speed and content,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “It will ensure that the online environment remains a safe space, protecting freedom of expression and opportunity for digital businesses. It gives practical effect to the principle that what’s outside online is illegal, must be illegal online.”

Under the DSA, the EU will have the power to fine tech companies up to six percent of their global revenue for rule violations, with repeat violations risking a ban from the bloc. As Guardians points out, in the case of a company like Meta, that would translate into a unique potential fine of around $7 billion.

The DSA distinguishes between tech companies of different sizes, with the strictest scrutiny going to platforms with at least 45 million users in the EU. Within that group are companies like Meta and Google. According to a recent report, those two companies, along with Apple, Amazon and Spotify, jointly spent more than 27 million euros lobbying EU policymakers last year to change the provisions of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. The law could inspire lawmakers in other countries, including the US, as they want to pass antitrust law.

A Google spokesperson told Engadget: “We welcome the DSA’s goals of making the Internet even more secure, transparent, and accountable, while ensuring that users, creators, and businesses alike European industry continues to benefit from the open web. “As the law is finalized and implemented, the details will matter. We look forward to working with policymakers to get the rest of the technical information ready.

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