Digital Services Act: EU seeks feedback ahead of tough new online platform rules

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Alfa1

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EU regulators are seeking feedback from users and digital service providers before drafting rules ...
A 43-page questionnaire to be sent to members of the public, digital services providers and EU governments in coming weeks covers topics such as the power of “gatekeepers”, online platforms’ liability for illegal or harmful content, gig economy workers and transparency around online advertising.

The feedback will guide the European Commission’s digital unit in drafting the Digital Services Act to replace the two-decade old e-commerce directive which governs online services in the 27-country bloc.

The new act also seeks to define online platforms’ responsibility and whether they should be more proactive in removing illegal or harmful content, hate speech, fake news.

The document shows EU regulators are considering whether all online platforms, or only larger ones or those at particular risk of exposure to illegal activities by their users, should be subjected to take-down notices, and how prescriptive these should be.

More information here:
 

MagicalAzareal

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You will find that platforms very much much are proactive at removing illegal content and harmful content (which goes above and beyond what the law prescribes). "Tough rules" will almost certainly not be a problem to these huge platforms either, with their large teams of lawyers and lack of scruples about turning the AI crazy on their users.

The ones who may be affected will be their competitors and small sites who may not have 24/7/365 moderation to handle the ridiculous "one hour deadlines" which some are pushing. I will add that "one hour deadlines" means that platforms are likely to take random content down automatically on any report from a troll or adversary without ever looking at it so that they are not held liable.

I'm sick of the media / politicians trying to spin more moderation and better efforts to crack-down on content as them "not doing" enough. It is revolting, they're trying to do more, but there is a limit to what you can do at scale, it's a tech company not an almighty god.

This is a very pathetic attempt by the E.U. to capitalize on people's genuine concerns about tech giants (monopoly, privacy) for political gains.
 
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Alfa1

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Some more information on the digitial services act and time line:

I think its problematic that so far the EU is getting feedback from large platforms, but not from forums. It seems that this will be another GDPR like situation and forum admins will have to cope with regulations that are hard or impossible to deal with except for large corporations like Facebook, Google and Reddit.
 
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MagicalAzareal

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For short deadlines:

What happens if a competitor or a bot posts ISIS beheading videos while you're asleep, on vacation or receive so little activity you can reasonably expect to not have to do day-by-day or hour-by-hour moderation? What happens if you're hospitalised? What happens if you get the Digitalpoint treatment? What if you get side-tracked by other projects or priorities? What if you're busy working on development and don't have the time to spend every waking moment doing moderation?

For general liability:

What happens if content gets buried? What if someone edits a post from two years ago? What if someone posts something on their profile? What if someone makes an account, sets child pornography as their avatar and otherwise never uses the site? Is every hobbyist expected to police all of this and to engineer everything around it? Some may be taken by surprise, to say the least. What if someone shares something in a private group / chat on your platform? (This is the most likely to get immunity tbh).

It is all well when you're there and aware of what's going on, but what if you're not?

Unfortunately, a lot of legislation (including FOSTA and EARNIT, which are written by the same people) listen to a lot of feedback from giants and ignore everyone else as if they don't exist. The giants can handle the liability, they have the engineers and the lawyers, others cannot so much.

Edit:

For misinformation:

How can you tell if something is true? Are you held liable for any possible lie posted on your platform? Are we going to have a Ministry of Truth which decides what is right and what is wrong? What if they're the ones who are wrong? I feel like this could be addressed to some extent by imparting much better critical thinking skills into people.

For hate speech:

Define "hate speech". If you say something true yet critical of someone with a politically correct trait, can they twist this to mean "discrimination"? This definition is awfully vague to put into statute. Does it mean to say something mean? Is it so much to not peruse sites where this is common?

They are not transparent:

Disclosing precisely how your automated moderation methods work and what they will match will tell people how to work around them, particularly at scale.

Accountability:

You mean looking for a scapegoat when someone who has to make a call every minute or less makes a mistake?

we consider ourselves as politically independent
Is this why they're toeing the party line?
The EU Commission is also likely to strengthen regulatory oversight in order to improve the speed and coordination among multiple regulatory environments within the EU where platforms are subject to multiple national and local-specific regulations
I would prefer if there weren't unique rules for every country in the E.U. (particularly ones which are exerted beyond their own national borders). Fortunately, this trainwreck is likely to be contained to the E.U. so they will largely be sabotaging themselves and sites can be hosted elsewhere. I sometimes have to wonder if the EU, Australia and these other countries sabotage themselves deliberately to entrench U.S. hegemony.
 
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MagicalAzareal

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I think its problematic that so far the EU is getting feedback from large platforms, but not from forums.
Maybe we need an association of small sites or something to speak for the little guys.

Should we send emails to the Contact form on that website...? Unfortunately, it is a bit of a second rate avenue.
 
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MagicalAzareal

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Article19 has some good recommendations, although I would go further than them on the "no filters", particularly on the open web where someone might not have the space to download a large filter list repository, may have concerns about privacy in sending uploaded content to third party services (aka the Ministry of Truth) to see if it is okay, may have concerns about the accountability of list providers or may have concerns about it increasing the complexity and security surface while doing little to tackle bad actors who can readily adapt.

Small sites also don't particularly need to strictly adhere to transparency or due process guidelines as it is a recipe for drama.

I may send a submission of my own to this digitalservicesact.eu website to see if I can get them to consider the views of hobbyists / privacy enthusiasts / free speech advocates / small businesses in this matter.

I may advice doing the same thing, if you don't want the E.U. to pass rules ultimately without taking your input /viewpoints into account (they think Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are the web). If new avenues for feedback open, I would advice using those as-well.
 
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Alfa1

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MagicalAzareal the points you raise are indeed the worries and examples of what can go wrong with this legislation. Surely the major platforms have moderators and AI working round the clock. For forums this is very hard to impossible. While the major platforms can create whatever functionality they need, we still have the same functionality for reporting that we had 15 years ago.
 

MagicalAzareal

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You likely think I'm a bit too jumpy at the filters, which is true when the stakes are so high, however in terms of accountability, there are three issues:

1) It is extraordinarily tempting for countries to simply automate the categorisation of content or URLs which are fed into the filters. Australia, Sweden and the U.S. have been caught doing this in the past. This means that ordinary sites for small businesses could be caught in a nation-wide filter, if so much as the wrong site links to them or vice versa or a site in the chain of links.

2) Lists tend to grow. At first, it may be child pornography which we all can 100% agree the internet could do without (although, the costs of trying to censor it may far outweigh the gains, much akin to Prohibition). But once this is in place, a combination of lobbyists for particular groups and governments seeing how useful the powers are leads to it being repurposed for other ills of society. Terrorism gets thrown in, no one likes ISIS or Al Qaeda, right? After that, naked kids. After that, artificial / cartoon child porn. Some might defend those for one reason or another, but most will collectively nap. After that, there is the revenge porn. And then, there is the Nazi speech and the "misinformation" and it goes on and on and on. Even Hollywood will jump in to drop some copyrighted items in. The filters are never quite perfect at the best of times and will bug out, especially if it is mandatory and all-pervasive. You will also get some politicians who for one reason or another decide to put pressure on agencies, and suddenly, a few "extra" things get censored. It will then go on and on until you get a death by a thousand bites, the only way to win is not to play the game. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/09/uk-surveillance-regime-violated-human-rights

3) People become quite unwilling to develop new technologies or walk the extra mile to deal with criminals, if they feel it will eventually be used against them as a liability shotgun. They may decide a particular technology may be relatively ineffective or has too many false positives, and once they invent it, they will never be able to stop using it. It is easier then to not punish themselves be inventing it and doing the absolute minimum to meet compliance. Governments only have the tech sector to invent solutions so they will be stuck.

Optional filters may be okay in the general sense.
 

TheChiro

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Dear Government,

Don't tread on me. Stay the **** out of my business.

Thanks,

Freedom lovers



On a more serious note, it doesn't matter what the laws are going to be, it's only going to hurt the law abiding citizens. How are they going to track down deep/dark web site owners? That's where the real bad **** happens. So...if I were any of you in the EU, I'd tell them all to **** right off and leave you alone.

Like...fake news for instance. What happens when at first it is considered fake news by the government policy enforcers, then years later it is found out to be correct? Russia collusion anyone? Obama illegally spying on Trump anyone? Ukraine quid pro quo anyone? (etc etc etc) Any site that called the so called "democrat evidence" a bunch of bull**** were considered fake news, censored by the likes of reddit, google, youtube, twitter, and facebook. But now...LOLOLOL! So what happens in this instance? Web owner gets fined for, lets say $10,000. 3 years later, web owner was correct, then has to wait for government to reimburse? Good luck. On top of that...if you owed the govt money, they would tack on a nice prorated interest rate. You? The little peon in the country? HA! Or what if they went further and they took position of your website because of a situation like the above? They let it rot for 3 years, then you have to fight them to get the site back, probably another 10 years, now you are SOL big time.

Yeah, I should have just kept it as "**** right off". /rant
 

zappaDPJ

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So...if I were any of you in the EU, I'd tell them all to **** right off and leave you alone.
Which is exactly what we did in the UK although we are still thrashing out the finer points of the divorce.

Looking further afield (and not wishing to stray too far off topic)...

'Trump signs executive order targeting Twitter after fact-checking row'
 

MagicalAzareal

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Which is exactly what we did in the UK although we are still thrashing out the finer points of the divorce.

Looking further afield (and not wishing to stray too far off topic)...

'Trump signs executive order targeting Twitter after fact-checking row'
Who decides what constitutes political "bias"? If I run a site based in the U.S. and decide I don't want people posting Nazi ideology (exercising my freedom of association, which isn't necessarily incompatible with freedom of speech), then am I forced to carry that speech?

If internet trolls and spammers sign-up on my site to be disruptive, can they now claim "muh free speech"?
 

zappaDPJ

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Who decides what constitutes political "bias"? If I run a site based in the U.S. and decide I don't want people posting Nazi ideology (exercising my freedom of association, which isn't necessarily incompatible with freedom of speech), then am I forced to carry that speech?

If internet trolls and spammers sign-up on my site to be disruptive, can they now claim "muh free speech"?
It's a good question and one that I suspect is going to be headline news as of today...


Political bias and even trolling in some form or other has been around since the beginning of time but prior to the digital age people seemed better equipped to ignore it, accept it or deal with it.

I'd say today in general no entity or individual is capable of determining what constitutes political bias because it's become so ingrained in our society. It seems to me we've lost something more important than the ability to be impartial, something even more important than free speech and that's common sense.
 

MagicalAzareal

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It's a good question and one that I suspect is going to be headline news as of today...


Political bias and even trolling in some form or other has been around since the beginning of time but prior to the digital age people seemed better equipped to ignore it, accept it or deal with it.

I'd say today in general no entity or individual is capable of determining what constitutes political bias because it's become so ingrained in our society. It seems to me we've lost something more important than the ability to be impartial, something even more important than free speech and that's common sense.
Twitter really should stay out of this political business imo, it sets a really bad precedent and will burn them really badly.

I have a good idea of why they don't like his recent antics, particularly the tweet regarding mail in voting where Trumps supporters / areas of support who are more likely to breach the lockdown may get an advantage at the next election, but Twitter is playing with fire here.

Twitter is not the savior of the world and it should not pretend to be.
So can this affect small forums in any way?
It is hard to say, but it is all the more reason to show them this side of the story and not just let discourse be dominated by Facebook which sets false expectations about what all platforms are capable of. If people speak out, they're less likely to pass genuinely bad law.

There are a lot of interests who are trying to influence this one way or another.
 
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MagicalAzareal

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The PM of Australia said there was never any slavery in Australia. The media rebutted with an article and people posted it on social media. The wrongthink police, or perhaps, the very crude and awful filters on Facebook decided to censor it and ban the users.

As you can clearly see, Facebook is clearly stifling political speech with the rules they want to impose on the rest of the Web.
 
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