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‘A for effort’: European Commission DSA/DMA proposal falls short of the systemic change needed to rein in Big Tech power

The Commission’s proposal is an important step but falls short of putting forward an ambitious plan to break free from the centralised platform economy that defines people’s online experiences today.

By EDRi · December 15, 2020

15.12.2020, Brussels

The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act package proposed today is an important step forward but it does not deliver on the ambitious plans to advance an open, just and inclusive internet.

Building on the GDPR legacy and in conjunction with other regulatory efforts these proposals are expected to tame Big Tech and to modernise tools to regulate dominant internet platforms. The business models of hyper invasive platforms contribute to manipulation, surveillance and discrimination for profit, against the people using these services. This rapidly growing, unchecked and opaque system changes our behaviour, affects our freedom to participate in democratic and public life and further excludes the most marginalised.

“The Commission’s proposal is an important step but falls short of putting forward an ambitious plans to break free from the centralised platform economy that defines people’s online experiences today. The result of so far is a mixed bag of what seem like good intention that met corporate and government lobby realities. Much more work will be needed to achieve systemic changes and put people in control of their life in the digital world”

Jan Penfrat, Senior Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights (EDRi)

EDRi’s initial analysis welcomes the following clarifications:

  • the limited liability regime for digital intermediaries which is a cornerstone of today’s internet by protecting fundamental rights
  • the confirmation that laws cannot oblige digital intermediaries to monitor all content on their platforms
  • increased transparency of online advertising and content recommender systems

However, EDRi regrets the glaring absence of more systemic reforms as well as the acceptance of a dangerous system of privatised content control. In particular, EDRi is concerned that the proposals fail to:

  • fully tackle the abusive and intrusive business model of behavioural advertising
  • ensure that content moderation rules allow for freedom of expression without expecting private companies to decide on the illegality of that content
  • create incentives for decentralised, open, privacy-friendly services to exist and thrive in order to eliminate the current dominance of a handful of companies

“Our democracies need people who are empowered to receive and impart information, free from undue government and corporate influence. This proposal will not deliver that. Rather than focusing on changing the characteristics and norms of the online environment, the current DSA-DMA proposal shortsightedly concerns itself mostly with regulating existing platform providers. What we really need is strong interoperability obligations for the gatekeepers to our online public space,”

Rejo Zenger, Policy Advisor at Bits of Freedom.

EDRi looks forward to working with the EU co-legislators to address these gaps and deliver on a promise that meets the needs of people and democracies.