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December 21, 2020
Following publication by the European Commission of its proposals for a new Digital Services Act and a new Digital Markets Act, DOT Europe, which used to be called the European Digital Media Association (EDiMA) and which calls itself “the voice of the leading internet companies”, held a virtual panel meeting with leading institutional representatives to give their reactions.
Speaking at the event, Siada El Ramly, Director General of DOT Europe, welcomed the Digital Services Act, but warned that the devil will be in the detail. During the panel, Ms El Ramly said that if the Digital Services Act is developed and implemented in the right way, it “has the potential to deliver a more robust framework for online content moderation”. However, Ms El Ramly said, there remains “significant detail to be ironed out and the process is still at an early stage”.
Ms El Ramly noted that there is already an existing body of online content legislation at national and EU-level and said that it will be “crucial that the DSA works coherently with all the rules already in place”. In Ms El Ramly’s view, the principles of the E-Commerce Directive “remain a strong and important base for the development of future rules and we should build upon its foundations with the Digital Services Act”.
Ms El Ramly also said that DOT Europe has “some security concerns about potentially requiring platforms to provide direct access to their algorithms. Transparency can be achieved in many different ways and the leap to potentially force companies to expose their proprietary information may be disproportionate”.
In his opening remarks, Werner Stengg, from the cabinet of the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, said “DSA and DMA are major reforms of the digital space, and I hope they will be valid for the next 20 years, a major revolution in digital policymaking. They aim to improve the lives of 450 million citizens in Europe, make sure they feel safe and their freedom of speech is protected.”
During the panel discussion, MEP Karen Melchior said “This is a one time opportunity for us to regulate the internet of today and tomorrow and we should not lose this. The proposal we see from the Commission is a good start. But we need to look at details like the Good Samaritan principle, risk mitigation and intermediate liability.”
Speaking on the same panel, Ricardo Castanheira, from the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the EU, said: “The proposal delivers on the major elements that the European Parliament, Member States and stakeholders have been calling for. It is a modern set of rules for the digital space to create a safe environment online for users. As the incoming Presidency, we will give top priority to these two proposals, and our goal is to steer the beginning of these negotiations and move forward.”
In discussion with the other panellists, Iverna McGowan, Europe Director of the Centre for Democracy and Technology, said: “We see some very good ideas in these proposals, we need to send the right signal and strike the right balance to protect our elections, our speech and our democracy.” To read DOT Europe’s press release in full, click here.