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A Digital Constitution for Europe that’s 20 years overdue. People must come before profit!


15 Dec 2020


Innovation & Enterprise

Reacting to the European Commission’s much-awaited proposals on the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts, S&Ds demand stricter rules when it comes to transparency, targeted online advertisement and enforcement of rules in the digital sphere.

Tiemo Wölken, S&D negotiator on the Digital Services Act initiative report in the committee for legal affairs, said:

“The Digital Services Act will give Europe a real Digital Constitution. Clear rules will ensure legal certainty for platforms and safeguard the fundamental rights of users. I am particularly glad that the Commission has chosen to follow the recommendations of the European Parliament in spelling out procedural rules for Notice and Action mechanisms.

“However, the proposal falls behind on some points. Transparency obligations for online advertising are an important first step, but they are not enough to tackle the economic incentive for the viral spread of disinformation and harmful content. Platforms will continue making attention-seeking content more visible for users as long as this generates profits from targeted personalised ads. On the other hand, I welcome the obligation to make very large platforms give their users more options to influence the parameters for content curation and recommender systems.

“Another missing element is requirements for the interoperability of content hosting platforms. This would give users a real choice, rather than keeping them in locked proprietary environments.

“I am also doubtful as to whether national bodies are best placed to ensure effective oversight. European-level oversight is foreseen for very large platforms. Harmonised rules require harmonised enforcement and I do not see why this should not be the case for all platforms.”

Alex Agius Saliba, S&D negotiator on the Digital Services Act initiative report in the committee for consumer protection, said:

“Online platforms have become indispensable in our lives. They have, however, acquired unprecedented powers by becoming rule setters in their own rights creating a digital environment suited to their own vested interests. International digital companies have used their powers with surveillance of users deciding on what we can say and read and what we can see and buy online. Consumers have been exposed to online scams or faulty products with no legal protection online whatsoever.

“The time has now come to catch up with these new realities and have a long-overdue overhaul of 20 year old rules, which are no longer fit for purpose. It is high time to be ambitious and address everything from user safety, consumer protection, targeted advertisement, surveillance of users, transparency, accountability, and end tech giants’ ability to gain the digital economy for their dividends.

“The DSA and DMA should not work towards maximising tech giants’ huge profits but towards safer digital space for all users, where fundamental rights and public interests, the users’ and consumers’ rights are protected online. It is not Europe who must adapt to rules set by big digital companies, but it is the companies who must adapt to our legislation.”

Ismail Ertug, S&D vice-president in charge of digitalisation, said:

“With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, gatekeeper platforms have ignored accountability and transparency and increased their market power. Gatekeeper platforms need to be held accountable, while we make markets for start-ups and SMEs more accessible.   

“Clear and binding rules are necessary to tackle the imbalance of the digital market. We expect the EU-Commission to not back down from proposing ambitious rules for the digital world – which will work for all.”



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