07 September 2021

Eyes Wide Open

The Digital Services Act must confront a gordian knot of fundamental rights and public interests with respect to various affected actors. To be effective, the new regulation must both consider the current reality of intermediary service provision and provide enough flexibility for future technological developments. It currently falls short of this aim. Continue reading >>

Platform research access in Article 31 of the Digital Services Act

Over the past year, dominant platforms such as Facebook have repeatedly interfered with independent research projects, prompting calls for reform. Platforms are shaping up as gatekeepers not only of online content and commerce, but of research into these phenomena. As self-regulation flounders, researchers are hopeful for Article 31 of the proposed Digital Services Act, on “Data Access and Scrutiny” - a highly ambitious tool to compel access to certain data, but researchers also need a shield to protect them against interference with their independent projects. Continue reading >>
06 September 2021

Re-Subjecting State-Like Actors to the State

The Digital Services Act aims to limit the power of the Big Tech companies and to place more responsibility on them to control the content which is posted on their websites. Rather than providing even more power to the platforms via de facto self-regulation, the DSA should strengthen the interference opportunities of public authorities. Continue reading >>
05 September 2021

Human Ads Beyond Targeted Advertising

If the bridling of harmful targeted advertising is a core objective of the DSA, the exclusion of influencer marketing is a grave oversight. Amendments introduced by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee in the European Parliament may remedy this omission. If "human ads" were omitted, Big Tech platforms’ sophisticated data-related business models will continue to escape encompassing regulation and hence, their power will remain unchecked. Continue reading >>
02 September 2021

General and specific monitoring obligations in the Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act contains regulation that does not directly interfere with platforms’ freedom to operate but indirectly creates incentives for their handling of risk-aware behaviour, for example, towards personality right violations. Within the context of general and specific monitoring obligations in the Act, in particular, indirect regulation can encourage innovative and pragmatic decision-making, although further guardrails are necessary. Continue reading >>
01 September 2021
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Using Terms and Conditions to apply Fundamental Rights to Content Moderation

Under EU law, platforms presently have no obligation to incorporate fundamental rights into their terms and conditions. The Digital Services Act seeks to change this in its draft Article 12, however, there has been severe criticism on its meagre protection. As it stands and until courts intervene, the provision is too vague and ambiguous to effectively support the application of fundamental rights. Continue reading >>
31 August 2021

Five Reasons to be Skeptical About the DSA

In an effort to establish a “safe, predictable and trusted online environment” for the EU, the Digital Services Act proposal sets out an extensive catalogue of due diligence obligations for online intermediaries, coupled with tight enforcement rules. A freedom of expression perspective on the proposal reveals that it partly reinforces Big Tech’s control over communication, and moreover fights fire with fire by establishing a powerful public/private bureaucracy able to monitor and potentially manipulate online communication trends. Continue reading >>

The European Constitutional Road to Address Platform Power

The functions exercised by online platforms raise questions about the safeguarding of fundamental rights and democratic values from the autonomous discretion of the private sector, which is not bound by constitutional law. The Digital Services Act horizontally translates European constitutional values to private relationships, to limit governance by platforms. Continue reading >>
30 August 2021

The DSA Proposal’s Impact on Digital Dominance 

One of the most pressing questions in the ongoing debates about the Digital Services Act (DSA) proposal is the question of entrenching dominance. While the DSA aims at providing a harmonized regulatory framework for addressing online harms, there is a risk that imposing accountability at the threat of fines might increase the power of already dominant intermediaries. This problem is particularly evident for content moderation, where over the last decades a handful of services have consolidated their position as the primary arbiters of speech and online activity. Continue reading >>
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