The regulations and political decisions of the European Parliament in matters of technology and the Internet have a unique influence throughout the world. With great influence comes great responsibility. We believe that the European Parliament (EP) has a duty to lead by example with the Digital Services Act (DSA), the first major overhaul of European Internet regulations in 20 years. The EP should show that the DSA can tackle difficult challenges – hate speech, disinformation and lack of user control over major platforms – without compromising the protection of human rights, freedom of expression and human rights. expression, as well as user privacy and security.
Balancing these principles is complex, but imperative. A step in the wrong direction could reverberate around the world, affecting fundamental rights beyond the borders of the European Union. To this end, 12 civil society organizations from around the world, championing transparency, accountability and the development of human rights-centered laws, have formed the Digital Services Act Human Rights Alliance to establish and promote a standard world for the governance of Internet platforms. The Alliance is made up of digital rights and human rights organizations representing diverse communities around the world, including the Arab world, Europe, United Nations member states, Mexico, Syria. and the United States.
In its first move towards this goal, the Alliance today calls on the EP to adopt a human rights framework for the DSA and to take measures to ensure that it protects access to information for all , especially marginalized communities, reject inflexible and unrealistic withdrawal mandates. that lead to excessive redactions and infringe on freedom of expression, and strengthen mandatory human rights impact assessments so that issues such as faulty algorithm decision-making are identified before people are not injured.
This call to action follows a series of disturbing amendments approved by an influential parliamentary committee that crossed red lines protecting fundamental rights and freedom of expression. EFF and other civil society organizations told the EP ahead of the amendments that the DSA offers an unprecedented opportunity to address some of the internet ecosystem’s most pressing challenges and help better protect fundamental rights online, if it’s done right.
It was therefore disappointing to see the EP committee take a wrong turn by voting in September to limit liability exemptions for internet companies which perform basic functions of moderation and curation of content, forcing companies to analyze and indiscriminately monitor user communication or use download filters. , and grant special benefits, not available to ordinary users, politicians and popular public figures treated as trusted flaggers.
In a joint letter, the Alliance today called on EU lawmakers to take action to get DSA back on track:
- Avoid disproportionate demands on small providers that would seriously jeopardize users’ access to information.
- Reject the tight and short deadlines prescribed by law for content deletions that will lead to the deletion of legitimate speech and opinions that violate free speech rights.
- Dismiss mandatory reporting obligations to law enforcement agencies (LEA), especially without appropriate safeguards and transparency requirements.
- Prevent public authorities, including LEAs, from becoming trusted flaggers and subject the conditions for becoming trusted flaggers to regular reviews and appropriate public oversight.
- View mandatory human rights impact assessments as the primary mechanism for reviewing and mitigating systemic risks arising from platform operations.
For the joint statement of the DSA Human Rights Alliance:
To find out more about the DSA: