More Privacy Safeguards Needed – EU Watchdog

The European Union’s privacy watchdog, EDPS, has backed the European Commission’s proposals to rein in the power of big name tech firms.

In its opinion announcement, the EDPS backed the EU’s draft rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA), that were announced late last year.

The DSA rules will force tech companies to explain how their algorithms work, open up their advertising archives to regulators and researchers, and do more to tackle hate speech, harmful content and counterfeit products on their platforms.

Digital Services Act

The DMA rules on the other hand applies a list of requirements to big name tech firms, such as sharing certain kinds of data with rivals and regulators; and outlawed practices, such as favouring their own services.

The EDPS welcomed the Digital Services Act, which it said seeks to promote a transparent and safe online environment.

However, “the EDPS recommends additional measures to better protect individuals when it comes to content moderation, online targeted advertising and recommender systems used by online platforms, such as social media and marketplaces.”

“We note that the Proposal does not impose a general monitoring obligation, it confirms reasonable liability exemptions and supplements them with a pan-European system of notice and action rules, so far missing,” said Wojciech Wiewiórowski of the EDPS.

The EDPS stressed that any form of content moderation should take place in accordance with the rule of law. It said that profiling for the purpose of content moderation should be prohibited unless the online service provider can demonstrate that such measures are strictly necessary to address the systemic risks explicitly identified in the Digital Services Act.

It also urged European legislators to consider a ban on online targeted advertising based on pervasive tracking and restrict the categories of data that can be processed for such advertising methods.

Digital Markets Act

Moving onto the Digital Markets Act, the EDPS also welcomed the proposal that “seeks to promote fair and open digital markets and the fair processing of personal data by regulating large online platforms acting as gatekeepers.”

“Competition, consumer protection and data protection law are three inextricably linked policy areas in the context of the online platform economy,” said Wiewiórowski. “Therefore, the relationship between these three areas should be one of complementarity, not friction.”

But again the EDPS had some further recommendations.

“To guarantee the successful implementation of the European Commission’s Digital Services Act package, the EDPS calls for a clear legal basis and structure for closer co-operation between the relevant oversight authorities, including data protection authorities, consumer protection authorities and competition authorities,” the watchdog said.

It should be noted that the DSA and DMA are still some way off before being made law, as the European Commission will have to negotiate with individual EU countries and the European Parliament to agree on the final legislation.

That process is expected to take between 16 to 24 months.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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