The European Parliament’s ‘more considered’ approach to regulating the internet remains a complete disaster


from regulation-of-human-behaviour department

The EU has been working on its latest major internet regulatory update for some time now, primarily under the umbrella of the Digital Services Act (DSA). Several people who have followed the process there have noted how much more thoughtful the process has been for the DSA compared to attempts to regulate the internet in the United States, which mostly seem to be driven by the senator who thinks he can do headlines for misrepresentation. what a particular outrage this week. A more careful and thoughtful approach is certainly appreciated, but this does not want to say the results will be good. Last week, the European Parliament approved the latest version of the DSA in what was seen as a mixed bag.

Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer described the final vote as having both “huge success and major setbacks.” I’m actually a bit surprised that the EFF seems pretty happy with the result (with a few caveats), although that seems mostly due to the fact that a few really bad ideas were discarded. But, it still seems like a bunch of bad ideas do pass through.

The good sides are that the new DSA most retains the ‘contingent liability regime’ of the e-commerce directive and rejected a proposal that would require ‘general monitoring’ (i.e. faulty filters to try and filter out the ‘bad stuff’). There was an attempt to go even further and ban upload filters altogether, but that was rejected. Similarly, a proposal to say that courts could not require ISPs to engage in full blocking of sites was rejected.

On the bright side, this version of the DSA includes a right to pay for digital services anonymouslyeven though he rejected a limitation on requiring a court order for the government to snoop on your data. This too rejected a proposal that would require a court order to remove content – ​​outlawing the practice of allowing government agencies to order the removal of content. This is extremely regrettable and an attack on due process.

There’s a lot more in there that’s a mix of good and bad, and it’s not all really final yet either. But, I still think that overall, the DSA will have a hugely negative impact on internet freedoms and free speech, even if it does contain a few things at the margins.

At the end of the day, I believe that any set of “widespread” Internet regulations, whether thoughtfully prepared or not, will always be a disaster. They cannot take into account the complexity of the world, the context, the general dynamism of the Internet and the speed with which things change. Not only that, but the very process of opening up these sweeping regulations that cover so much of how the Internet works for users is going to be hijacked by special interests who want this or that to be included in the final rulebook.

Is the process more reality-based than the grand US stand-o-rama? Sure. Will the end results be better? It doesn’t look like it.

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Filed Under: anonymity, contingent liability, data, digital services act, dsa, eu, filters, liability of intermediaries, internet regulation, privacy

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