A section 230 for EU tech companies?
The European Commission will present a new Digital Services Act package in December 2020. It should modernise the current legal framework for digital services, bringing in responsibilities to address the risks faced by users and to protect their rights, and rules covering online platforms acting as gatekeepers.
The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) announced that tech companies represented by tech lobby EDiMA are asking for a Section 230-like clause to be added to the set of rules. As a reminder, Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996. Websites can’t be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content, protecting them from lawsuits if a user posts something illegal. That leaves it to the platforms to set their own terms and conditions on what to take down or not.
In Europe today, companies must remove illegal content when notified about it, but “are also under pressure to do more”, the GIP continues.
EDiMA is asking for :
A legal presumption, that is limited in scope and which takes account of EU rights and values
An accountability mechanism focusing on systemic efforts rather than specific illegalities.
“Online service providers want to do more to voluntarily and proactively remove illegal content from their services, and society wants the same. However, there are important barriers under the current regime which prevent them from doing so.”
In other words, companies agree to be held responsible, but ask to implement their own systems.