As the European Union (EU) strives to bring order to the “Wild West” of the internet, the European Parliament adopted historic measures on Tuesday that will more closely monitor big tech companies and limit unlawful material online.
The final versions of the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act have been approved by the MEPs. The Digital Markets Act aims to put an end to the monopolistic practises of tech giants, while the Digital Services Act increases the scrutiny placed on platforms and the consequences for those platforms when they host content that is prohibited.
Andreas Schwab, a German member of the European Parliament and a prominent supporter of the regulations, claimed that “with the legislative package, the European Parliament has ushered in a new era of digital regulation.”
The Digital Marketing Association will have significant repercussions for Google, Meta, and Apple, the “gate-keepers” of the internet, who are now required to do business in accordance with a set of dos and don’ts that are designed to ensure the survival of smaller rivals.
This language was approved with 588 votes in favour, just 11 votes against, and 31 abstentions, which is an indication of the widespread concern that people across the political spectrum have over the activities of internet corporations.
The Digital Security Act would target a larger variety of actors on the internet and attempts to guarantee that there are actual penalties for businesses who fail to restrict hate speech, propaganda, and images of child sexual abuse.
According to Danish Member of the European Parliament Christel Schaldemose, the development of the digital world “has evolved a little like a western movie; there were no actual rules of the game, but now there is a new sheriff in town.”
In addition, it was comfortably approved with a vote count of 539 in favour, 54 against, and 30 absentees.
The final ratification of both legislation is now required by the 27 member states that make up the EU, which should be considered a formality.
Lobbying from the tech corporations had been an issue for the law, as had been a heated discussion over how far freedom of expression should be allowed to go.
Now the most important issue is about enforcement, and there are concerns that the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive arm in Brussels, does not have the resources necessary to give its new powers a strong bite.
Thierry Breton, the commissioner for the internal market of the European Union, played down the significance of the issue and insisted that enforcement teams, working in cooperation with national regulators, would be capable of handling the situation.
He said, “There will be a before DSA and DMA, and there will be an after DSA and DMA.”