Deal on Rules Forcing Tech Giants to Police Content Possible in April, EU’s Vestager Says

Deal on Rules Forcing Tech Giants to Police Content Possible in April, EU’s Vestager Says
European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager speaks during an interview with Reuters in Brussels, on March 28, 2022. (Johanna Geron/Reuters)

BRUSSELS—A deal between EU countries and EU lawmakers that would require tech giants to do more to police content on their platforms could be agreed next month, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said on Monday.

Vestager proposed the Digital Services Act, (DSA) which forces tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content or risk fines up to 6 percent of their global turnover, just over a year ago.

EU countries and EU lawmakers are now thrashing out the details, with debate over the definition of an online marketplace subject to the rules and the criteria for banning targeted advertisements.

“There is a very strong momentum to get things done. And the leadership of the French presidency may allow us to finalize the Digital Services Act before the end of April. But if we work hard, and we’re lucky, it may be possible,” Vestager told Reuters in an interview.

Vestager last week secured the green light from EU countries and EU lawmakers for her other landmark proposal, called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), targeting Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft.

The DMA sets out a list of dos and don’ts and gives companies designated as online gatekeepers, which control access and data on their platforms, six months to comply with the rules. Businesses, however, say that is too short for such complex legislation.

Vestager said there would be no extension as companies are aware of what constitutes anti-competitive practices.

“Well, actually both I think we in our work and the companies should be very happy that we have six months because it was one of the things that were intensively discussed during the negotiations,” she said.

“And since both the prohibitions and the obligations are things that come from established case law, I don’t think any of them are sort of big surprises.”

Asked whether the DMA would cover non-U.S. tech giants, Vestager said: “It’s likely but I don’t know.”

Observers said and Alibaba may fall under the new rules.

By Foo Yun Chee