EU cracks down on harmful online content with new laws 

The European Parliament has approved two new laws that aim to make the internet safer and fairer for consumers and digital companies. 

In recent years, there have been extraordinary changes in the EU’s digital economy and this has meant an increase in harmful content, online disinformation, and electoral interference. 

It has also meant a huge power imbalance, with a small number of multinational tech companies holding the majority of power online. The new laws are designed to address these issues. 

MEPs voted in favor of the new laws with an overwhelming majority earlier this week after negotiations between Parliament and member states were finalized much faster than expected. 

The legislation includes two new laws:  the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), both of which are designed to transform Europe’s internet landscape. 

The first law to be introduced, the Digital Services Act, targets some of the societal risks the internet poses and includes a number of rules aimed at major online platforms. 

Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon will be required to meet new obligations to increase accountability. For example, they will need to take an active role in preventing illegal content and products online. 

They will need to reduce the spread of hate speech and provide information about the way they moderate content and use algorithms. Some types of targeted advertising will also be banned, including those based on sensitive data like race, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. 

The second law, the Digital Market Act, focuses on making the internet fairer and ensuring fair competition across the EU single market. To do this, the EU will use merger approvals, antitrust investigations, and state aid control.

The DMA will target platforms that hold a dominant position in the market, also known as “gatekeepers”. These companies are almost impossible to avoid for consumers. 

Companies with a market capitalization of at least €75 billion or an annual turnover of €7.5 billion are considered gatekeepers, and it’s likely to include digital giants like Apple, Amazon, Meta, PayPal, Google, and Microsoft. 

To encourage fair competition, the new law will rebalance business powers so small and medium-sized companies are able to compete against tech giants – at the moment, many of these businesses are unable to compete and are pushed out of markets. 

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