Online platforms to see EU's Digital Services Act wrangling end with votes this week

13 June 2022 16:11

Digital Service Act

Online platforms could see the final details of the EU's forthcoming content-moderation law fixed this week as the bloc's lawmakers and governments vote on an agreement to end last-minute wrangling over technicalities.

While the Digital Services Act was ostensibly already agreed by negotiators on Apr. 23, national governments wanted a non-binding "recital" in the draft law's preamble to say that platforms should remove illegal content that's identical to material they've previously been ordered to take down by a court without waiting for a new court order.

Tech industry lobbyists argued that the recital, written to aid interpretation of the binding parts of the DSA, could be interpreted as a requirement to conduct "general monitoring" to filter out illegal content — an obligation to which they must not be subjected under EU law.

Some lawmakers, meanwhile, complained the recital didn't reflect the April agreement. But proponents argued the wording simply reflected existing EU case law.

Making a deal

France, negotiating with the European Parliament on behalf of the member states, has now agreed to drop the change in the face of opposition from several political groups in the legislature. The deal, struck last Friday, was first reported by Euractiv.

But the two sides have agreed to keep another recital referring to the rights of national gambling regulators to block illegal gambling content run from another EU country.

The new compromise on these two recitals, alongside everything that was agreed on Apr. 23, will be put to a single vote of representatives for the 27 EU member states on Wednesday.

If they approve the text, national governments will formally invite the parliament to vote on it, too. Its Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee is expected to vote on Thursday, followed by a vote of the full parliament in the first week of July.

After that, EU lawyers will still have to come up with consistent translations of the text in all of the EU's 24 official languages, which could take a couple of months. Only with that done can lawmakers and ministers finally vote to pass the DSA into law. It's understood that this could potentially take place toward the end of the year.

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