New ‘authoritarian’ EU Internet censorship law will have global impact

by WorldTribune Staff, August 31, 2023

The European Union has passed a new law that critics say calls for censoring anything posed online that is deemed “false or misleading” under a so-called Strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation.

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which went into effect on Aug. 25, mandates that tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and more must comply with sweeping legislation that holds online platforms legally accountable for the content posted to them.

Initially, there will be 19 platforms that will be forced to comply with this new law. The list so far includes: Facebook, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Amazon, Booking, AliExpress, Zalando, Google Shopping, Wikipedia, Google Maps, Google and Apple’s mobile app stores, Google’s Search, and Microsoft’s Bing.

Starting on Feb. 24, 2024, the DSA will start applying to a much broader spectrum of online platforms that have fewer than 45 million monthly users.

What kind of speech is the DSA expected to police?

Last year’s Strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation defines disinformation as “false or misleading content that is spread with an intention to deceive or secure economic or political gain and which may cause public harm.”

Writing for the Discern Report on Aug. 29, Michael Snyder noted: “The code has already been put to work during elections and to ‘respond to crises,’ such as Covid and the war in Ukraine.

The EU law “establishes an extremely strict regime of Internet censorship that is far more authoritarian than anything we have ever seen before,” Snyder wrote. “From this point forward, hordes of European bureaucrats will be the arbiters of what is acceptable to say on the Internet.”

If those arbiters “discover something that you have said on a large online platform that they do not like, they can force that platform to take it down, because someone in Europe might see it,” Snyder added. “So even though this is a European law, the truth is that it is going to have a tremendous impact on all of us.”

Online platforms that don’t comply with the law could see fines of up to 6 percent of their global turnover. According to the EU Commission, the Digital Services Coordinator and the Commission will have the power to “require immediate actions where necessary to address very serious harms.” A platform continually refusing to comply could result in a temporary suspension in the EU.

Snyder, author of the new book entitled “End Times”, added: “From this point forward, it is going to become much more difficult to share alternative views on the Internet. … And that is going to apply to every other independent journalist as well.”

Snyder concluded: “For a long time, the Internet allowed ordinary people like you and ordinary people like me to share truth with a world that was desperate for it. But now the gatekeepers are exerting a draconian level of control, and the Internet will never, ever be the same again.”

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