Eliska Pirkova and Christoph Schmon
During this event, we will discuss and propose basic safeguards that should be included in the DSA legislative package to make sure that fundamental rights of users, their empowerment and free choice are in the center of the upcoming legislation.
The Internet has seen better times. Meant to liberate users, being online has become synonymous with being locked into a few powerful platforms, being tracked across the web without options to dissent and being left at the mercy of algorithmic decision systems that curate our online lives. Fundamental principles like transparency, openness, and informational self-determination that used to be central to the early days of the Internet seem to have been undermined significantly in the past decades.
In the European Union, there is an opportunity to remedy this: the Digital Services Act is the most significant reform of Europe’s central platform legislation, and an unparalleled opportunity to formulate a bold, evidence based vision to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. To preserve what works, to fix what is broken. The need for systemic regulation of large online platforms is justified and necessary. There is an enormous power imbalance between the large platforms and their users. In recent years, continuous scandals and increased media coverage have made it clear to the public that companies are exercising this power and making enormous profits without taking sufficient responsibility to safeguard people’s fundamental rights.
Furthermore, these platforms have failed to provide meaningful transparency, and the business models that are built on data harvesting without proper safeguards do not give users adequate control, either over their data or the information they receive and impart. We are not in a position to understand the extent to which our data are being used, nor are we able to determine the extent to which automated decision-making is leveraged in the curation or amplification of content. We cannot gauge the impact of these automated processes on our exposure to diverse content, and we cannot study or prevent the discriminatory treatment of underrepresented groups.
The DSA legislative package is a unique chance to create systemic regulation of gatekeeper platforms based on human rights standards, while making the rights of users the utmost priority. In this session, we will discuss how and by what means the EU can meet this mark.