The most prominent tech companies and search engines now have to ensure they are in compliance with new regulations imposed by the EU to safeguard their users.
Rulebreakers can be subject to significant fines under the Digital Services Act (DSA) of the EU.
Nineteen of the most prominent platforms, such as Facebook or TikTok, are subject to the strictest regulations, which require them to have safeguards in place to protect children and prevent meddling in elections.
A great number of alterations have been made, some of which will have an impact on users in the UK.
The EU’s Digital Services Act was signed into law on November 16, 2022, while the United Kingdom’s Online Safety Bill is still making its way through the parliamentary process.
However, businesses were given time to ensure that their computer systems were in compliance.
On April 25th, the Commission announced the extremely large online platforms that will be subject to the strictest regulations. These sites each have more than 45 million users in the EU. They are as follows: Alibaba, AliExpress, the Amazon Store, the Apple App Store, Booking.com, Facebook, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Shopping, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Wikipedia, YouTube, and Zalando. Both Google and Bing, which are search engines, will be required to comply with the guidelines.
They had a period of time of four months in which to comply with the act’s regulations. The compliance deadline for more nimble technological services has been pushed back to the next year.
In the event of a violation, the company could be fined 6% of its annual revenue and the service could be discontinued.
The DSA includes some additional stipulations with regard to the operation of particularly large platforms and search engines. They are obligated to evaluate the potential dangers that they may pose, report the results of that evaluation, and put in place measures to address the issue. This encompasses dangers associated with:
unlawful content rights, such as freedom of expression and media freedom; discrimination; consumer protection and children’s rights; public security and dangers to electoral processes; gender-based violence; public health; protection of minors; mental and physical welfare; and more.
It is no longer permissible to engage in targeted advertising against children based on their demographic profiles.
They are also required to disclose to the regulators the specifics of how their algorithms operate. This might include people who select which advertisements users view or which posts show in their feed. It could also include those who decide which posts appear in their feed. In addition to this, they are obligated to have protocols in place for the exchange of data with unaffiliated researchers.
Organizations have highlighted the efforts they made into complying with the regulations in blog postings and in statements provided to the BBC. TikTok and Meta both reported that their respective companies have more over one thousand employees working on the process of complying with the statute.
A great number of people have already put the adjustments into effect. Among those that concentrate on personalized adverts and feeds are the following:
Since the beginning of July, TikTok users in Europe who are between the ages of 13 and 17 will no longer be offered personalized advertising based on their behaviour online.
Since the month of February, meta applications like as Facebook and Instagram have discontinued displaying advertisements to users aged 13–17 all throughout the world based on their activities within the apps.
Facebook and Instagram users in Europe were given the option to restrict their viewing of Stories and Reels to only those posted by the individuals they follow, with the posts appearing in chronological order.
Snapchat is also blocking the ability of users aged 13 to 17 in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe to view personalized adverts. Additionally, it is compiling a database of advertisements that are broadcast throughout the EU.
There were also agreements made to release additional data to academics. Google made a promise to improve data access for anyone who are interested in learning more about the inner workings of Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play, and Shopping.
When asked to do so by the BBC, some have not yet provided specifics regarding the adjustments they have made. Simply put, X, which was formerly known as Twitter, declared that it was “on track” to achieve its compliance obligations.
Zalando and Amazon, both of which are e-commerce stores, have initiated legal action in an effort to challenge their classification as extremely big online platforms. Amazon maintains that they are not the largest retailer in any of the EU nations in which they have operations, and this is one of their primary arguments.
In spite of this, Amazon has taken measures to comply with the act and has “created a new channel for submitting notices against suspected illegal products and content.” According to Zalando’s statement to the BBC, the company will comply with the act.
In response to the DSA, Wikipedia has implemented some adjustments; nonetheless, the Foundation that is supporting the project has stated that these changes should not impair users’ day-to-day experiences. It contends that the way regulation is handled in the DSA is superior to the way it is handled in the online safety law and that this is the better way to handle things. It has stated that it would have a difficult time complying with certain of the standards outlined in the UK Act.
Legal counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, Phil Bradley-Schmieg, told the BBC that “our hope is that lawmakers will emulate the DSA; understand the diverse internet ecosystem; and protect safe, free, and public projects online.”