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10 Dec, 2020 13:44

EU to force Big Tech to police internet or face large fines – report

EU to force Big Tech to police internet or face large fines – report

The EU will require “very large” tech companies such as Facebook and Amazon to take greater responsibility for policing the internet or face fines of up to six percent of their turnover, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

FT cited a draft regulation, which is to be published next week, saying that such companies will have to check third-party suppliers (like the vendors who sell products on Amazon), and to share data with authorities and researchers on how they moderate illegal content. 

Regulators in Brussels defined “very large platforms” as those with more than 45 million users, or the equivalent of 10 percent of the bloc’s population. They will be targeted because of their "disproportionate influence” on internet users in the EU.

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Under the new law, large online platforms will have to ensure greater advertisement transparency by letting users know “in a clear and unambiguous manner and in real time” that they are viewing an ad. They will also have to inform consumers about who is behind the ad and should give them “meaningful information about the main parameters used to determine” why those consumers were targeted.

According to the draft, large platforms, most of which are based in the US, will have to appoint “one or more” compliance officers to make sure they abide by the new Digital Services Act rules. If they fail to comply with the rules, they will have to pay up to six percent of their total turnover in the previous financial year. The size of the fines will depend on the severity of the violations, how long they have been taking place, and whether they recur.

The new Digital Services Act will “allow the EU to get better tools to ensure that the digital economy works to the benefit of consumers rather than maximizing tech giants’ huge profits,” said Monique Goyens, director-general of Beuc, an umbrella organization of European consumer associations.

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“The time has come to end the tech giants’ ability to game the digital economy to suit their own narrow vested interests,” she added.

The European Union has long been accusing the digital giants of numerous violations. The alleged breaches include abuse of market dominance and not paying their fair share of taxes in the EU while benefiting from all European countries’ economies, especially through advertising.

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