Breton: Storming the Capitol is September 11th on social media


According to EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, the storming of the Capitol in Washington marks a turning point in the regulation of social networks. “Just as September 11 marked a paradigm shift in global security policy, 20 years later we will witness a before and after the role of digital platforms in our democracy, “wrote the Frenchman in a guest post for the portal on Monday Politico. The operators could no longer deny their social responsibility.

According to the commissioner, the attack on the US Congress has shown once again that “what happens online” also has consequences “in real life” and even worsens them. The “unprecedented reactions of online platforms to the rioting” with the blocking of US President Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter raised the question: “Why didn’t they manage to get the fake news and hate speech that led to the attack on Wednesday led to prevent a priori? ”

“Regardless of whether it was right to silence an incumbent president, should that decision be in the hands of a tech company that has no democratic legitimacy or oversight?” freight Breton. Could operators “still argue that they have no control over what their users post?”

The past few days have made it clearer than ever that “we cannot just stand by and rely on the goodwill of these platforms or their skilful interpretation of the law,” says the 65-year-old. “We have to lay down the rules of the game and organize the digital space with clear rights, obligations and security precautions.” With the draft for a Digital Services Act (DSA), the Commission has “taken a first step” here. The democratic challenges are global in nature. Therefore, the EU and the new US government “as allies of the free world” should promote coherent global regulatory principles for Facebook & Co. in a constructive dialogue.

With the controversial DSA, the commission wants to set up “traffic lights” for the network. According to the plan, platforms must demonstrate that they have no “actual knowledge” of illegal content on their pages or that they acted “immediately” to remove the content or block access to it. Otherwise they’ll stick. Authorities of any kind can send cross-border orders to providers without a judge’s reservation to take action against certain illegal content.

In the EU Parliament, which has yet to pass the draft, voices are being raised after the incidents in Washington that the DSA should be tightened. “We have to be more ambitious,” said the group leader of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, to “Politico”. If algorithms had the power to decide what was perceived, they would have to be transparent and standards for it had to be democratically established. The EU has already set appropriate rules for copyright and data protection, emphasized the CSU politician: “We need the same for this democratic discourse”. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg could not, as it were, alone decide on related elementary things.

Alex Agius Salib as rapporteur for the DSA in the Internal Market Committee of the EU Parliament made a similar statement: Digital practices that aim to maximize users’ attention through illegal or sensational content would have to be restricted with the planned law, demanded the social democrat to “Euractiv”. The green shadow rapporteur Alexandra Geese complained that Google and Facebook could use the DSA to create their own risk assessments. This would have to be done by independent external bodies.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) described the blocking of many Trump accounts in social networks as problematic. The basic right to freedom of expression is “of elementary importance,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Intervention should only be made along “the framework defined by the legislature – not according to the decision of the corporate management of social media platforms”. The operators bear great responsibility that political communication is not poisoned by hatred, lies or calls for violence. It is right to annotate such content, for example.