Many of the EU rules governing the Internet date back to 2000. The European Union’s E-Commerce Directive (ECD) came into force at the turn of the millenium, before platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube even existed (and when Amazon and Google were still in their infancy). In the intervening two decades since the ECD was introduced, the way we use the Internet has changed in ways that were difficult to anticipate in the 1990s.

In recent years, the EU has been updating its Internet rules. New legislation covering personal data was introduced in 2018 via the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which advocates say greatly strengthened the protection of consumer data. Now the EU is working on a package of legislation called the Digital Services Act (DSA), which has the potential to be even more significant in terms of how the Internet is governed. The DSA is likely to cover everything from liability for illegal content, to transparency in how algorithms make decisions, to promoting free and fair competition, to product safety, employment, counterfeit goods, and even advertising. The DSA is still in the early stages of the legislative process, with the first draft of the new law expected in December.

Want to learn more about the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act package? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Daniel, who thinks it’s important to ask who benefits when new rules are proposed for the internet. Do artists and other content creators benefit? Or web browsers? Or large internet platforms? Who stands to benefit in the case of the DSA?

To get a response, we put Daniel’s comment to Karen Melchior, an MEP with the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre) and member of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs. Who does she think stands to benefit from the Digital Services Act?

For another perspective, we also put Daniel’s comment to Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), an independent and non-profit policy research think tank dedicated to trade policy and other international economic policy issues of importance to Europe. What would he say?

We also put the same comment to Karina Stan, Director of EU Policy and Head of Brussels Office at the Developers Alliance, a non-profit global membership organization supporting developers as creators, innovators and entrepreneurs. How would she respond?

One controversial aspect of the DSA is the question of whether platforms should be liable for illegal content uploaded by users (particularly if they have been told to take that content down by a Member State court). Critics argue that platforms deal with so much content each day that they will err on the side of caution, and may start pre-screening user content via “upload filters” (algorithms designed to weed out illegal content before it is published), likely leading to many false positives.

We had a comment along these lines from Julia, who argues that upload filters “are censorship.” How do we protect freedom of speech online while also ensuring illegal content is taken down effectively? How would Karen Melchior MEP respond?

What would Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), say to Julia?

How would Karina Stan from the Developers Alliance react?

Finally, we had a comment come in from Shadow, who writes: “Owning a website or online platform doesn’t give you the right over other people’s constitutionally protected rights.” Will platforms have to decide whether content is illegal or not? How would Karen Melchior reply?

What would Hosuk Lee-Makiyama say?

Last but not least, what does Karina Stan think?

Do we need new rules for the internet? Who stands to benefit from the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act (DSA)? How can we take down illegal content without harming free speech? Will platforms have to decide whether content is illegal or not? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash
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17 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Michał

    Didn’t they just make new rules a few years ago?

  2. avatar
    Jevgeni

    Yes, we do need clear rules how governments use it, justifying all with “security” and “protection of citizens” is simply not acceptable, and how large corps are using as they are bigger than countries and their management is not elected by people. Soon everybody (not only criminals) will be using alternative dark side of the Internet, going underground.

    • avatar
      An

      Jevgeni, how they use dark side?

    • avatar
      Henrique

      An, its the dark web or deep web unindexed internet

  3. avatar
    Boyko

    Of course there should be rules. If you let free speach out, people may start to discuss that EU liberal agenda is total crap. Now we don’t want this to happen, do we?

  4. avatar
    Julia

    I am beginning to think that the EU should stick to trade agreements and stay out of everything else.

  5. avatar
    Paul

    Why n3it…more money for lawyers !

  6. avatar
    José

    No, only if it is to give more freedom. And stop governements using it to spy on people.

  7. avatar
    Alice

    Yes.
    For one, ban data collection for commercial purposes (at penalty of jail, not fines as they won’t make a difference for huge corps) and ban governments from spying on citizens too.

  8. avatar
    Stan the man

    ‘Do we need new rules for the internet’ is a bad question.
    1} Who is we ? The world ? Europe ? A country of europe ? A city ? Do they need all the same rules ?
    2} Need is defined as : “to have to have something, or to want something very much.’ Basiclly you are asking if we should interest ourselves to do something but u ask it in a extreme way so u gonna get extreme answer. Maybe there are other question we should talk about that we need to talk more about than how internet is ruled. Maybe some people didnt even tought about the question and you ask them to answer you like they know what they are talking about thus making your voting a reflect of class not a reflect of individual choice.
    3} What does mean new ? Does it mean we should change the old one ? Does it mean we should find new one to be added ?
    4} What is a rules ? Should it be some text that states just follow or get punished or should it be like just an advice ? Is creating rules usefull when we cant applicate them ? How much rules is too much rules ? Isn’t creating new rules, creating new criminal too ?
    5} What does mean internet ? People talk about internet like it is something on its own. Internet is a process, its created cause u have linked two computer together it’s not a space. Internet make 2 computer, 1 giant computer. Can you rules a process ? Can you force computer to connect in a specific way ? Can u see what computer do if u cant connect on them ?
    6} Thus, how can you do something FOR internet, will internet is not even a thing ? How can you act You can tell people how they can link, but you cant watch these people link if they dont link in the way you want them to link.
    7} The good question will be :
    “how can we regulate and manage internet connection so they are efficient and effective to prevent people from acting in a way forbidden by the law of the states they live in” And the answer is easy peasy due to inheral structure of what is internet : you cant but you can try and after 20 year of losing public money in a war u cant win you gonna find new stuff to talk about and regulate and u gonna do it again and again cause that how ordoliberalism work to control population and keep the privileges of the regulator who keep the privileges of the rich.

  9. avatar
    Saenen

    Why no rules over max prices ISP’s can ask for, for the best internet here in Belgium, you got to go for Telenet or Proximus. They also got an upload limit, totaly not of this time. For example I pay around 90€, includes land line, digital tv ‘basic’ and internet, max download 200mb/s, upload 20. Compared to for example The Netherlands it’s ridicilous expensive here, but well Belgian politicans like to be on the board, show up a few times a year and get a bonus pay of 10000€. PS: i don’t even use my land line, but it’s cheaper in a package deal.

  10. avatar
    Bart

    the internet’s initial premise was to be without rules. Other then human decency there should be no ruling body in our last (virtual) frontier.

  11. avatar
    Nicolas

    Stop-over-regulating-things please!! New rules makes just make EU lobbies win and -in the contrary- small users and small companies loose… The cookie laws as well gpdr have its merits in the original idea behind it. But again reality turned out pretty different… it totally overshot its purpose. The cookie law for example became an aberration in user’s experience and makes it extremely annoying to visit website. An please: no more new acta, acta2, sopa, pipa… or any derivatives as well! So no, no DSA as people may know where this is going to: it could become a new attempt (again!) as a gateway to possible censorship. Stop-it-please!!
    And maybe one more advice: the more filters and blocks, the more people will just search for back doors and find ways to bypass them. The dark web will flourish like never before, when new over-regulating EU legislation destroys the free internet as it is now…

  12. avatar
    Gary

    Yes
    Internet should be free
    Not gonna happen but worth to try

  13. avatar
    Malik

    It was better to close internet facilities till age of 18 years for better feature of our kids and nation

  14. avatar
    Benn

    One clear rule we need: companies must be obliged to personally (no bot, no form, but one on one communication) help you if a problem occurs longer than 14 days. Because now some companies continue to send you standard mails with a no reply address, so problems never get resolved

  15. avatar
    Kahraman Marangoz

    Should we have new rules for the internet?
    In my view the focus should not be on ‘new’ rules, the focus should be on the ‘right’ rules.
    So it is about internet in Europe with the right rules. What are the right rules for internet in Europe is answered by understanding the forming of Europe, as a nation where is a responsibility to explain, trough communication how humans are going to live long term. For a human to live long term it requires a lifestyle where the physical and psychological are healthy to reach the old age.
    So pollution for example is a negative impact on a human.
    If Europe wants to make it self real then it also has to apply to a lifestyle where the psychological well being is underlined. This not only in words but made real trough practice, to carry it out or else there is no single European doing that for the long term to reach the old age.
    What is that then?
    A situation where the law of the strongest takes place to dictate a citizen to follow a certain idea, a certain religion or something else. Dictatorship is taking away the free wil of a person, taking a way the freedom to make decision for their own life, a life as we know that is longer then one day, it takes many years to reach the old age. All that time to the old age that life is yours, it is not owned by others, it is not a life that is in control by a government or that it is owned by a nation. All that time that life is yours, no one but you can make decision for your life.
    That is in first place protecting the democratic values of Europe.
    The ‘right’ rules for the internet in Europe are connected to protecting the democratic values of Europe.
    That connection makes for us humans in Europe to have a psychological well being for the long term.
    That connection is the real Europe, the official Europe that leads by example, Europe that show itself, Europe that express itself, Europe that communicates with its citizens, Europe that connects with its citizens.
    So must that Europe, that wants to be a nation in the world an example first before it can have a future.
    The psychological well being of a human is important. That situation can come in danger when the law of the strongest takes place to dictate, then there is dictatorship and the connection with democracy is broken.
    A human’s psychological well being is important, a human needs to make his or her own decision for the own life that is his or her life till the old age, and that ‘life’ not owned by other people, a country, nation or regime.
    This danger coming from the law of the strongest is what Europe needs to say no to, that way Europe gives an example for the future generations of Europeans.
    To give one example of how the psychological well being of a human can come in danger by the law of the strongest is this one, knowing there can be many I am not going to write them all down in this post, just make it clear with one example:
    A myth that speaks of a certain person that lived long ago who’s shoes hold a magical power that gives to the one who wears the shoes immortality. There are 10 person who believe that myth and go on a journey to find those shoes of that certain person.
    Those 10 persons meet another person who they dictate to believe that myth and go with them on their journey to find those shoes that give immortality.
    A sain person who finds it’s psychological well being important is not going to ‘believe’ that myth and so not going on a journey with those 10 who do believe the myth.
    That person makes it’s own decisions for his or her life.
    The law of the strongest can bring that person’s psychological well being in danger by dictating to go on the journey to find the shoes of immortality.
    That is one example.
    It is not about ‘new’ rules for the internet in Europe, it is about the ‘right’ rules for the internet in Europe. Knowing when you use the internet in Europe that you are in a Europe that says no to the law of the strongest is good for the psychological wellbeing.

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