The EU’s latest piece of legislation could see big tech reveal its algorithms

In recent months the European Union (EU) has outlined some far reaching legislation as it pertains to the technology and online landscapes. The latest development on this front relates to the outline of the Digital Services Act (DSA), which could see algorithms come under the spotlight.

To that end, over the weekend, the EU Parliament detailed some of the finer elements of the DSA, which was first proposed in 2020.

“The new framework under the DSA is founded on European values, including the respect of human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. It will rebalance the rights and responsibilities of users, online intermediaries, including online platforms as well as very large online platforms, and public authorities,” a press release published by the EU explained.

“The DSA contains EU-wide due diligence obligations that will apply to all digital services that connect consumers to goods, services, or content, including new procedures for faster removal of illegal content as well as comprehensive protection for users’ fundamental rights online,” it added.

While the changes outlined above specifically pertain to the spread of misinformation on digital platforms, which has become a serious problem in recent years, it is one of the other points regarding algorithms that piqued our interest.

To that end, the EU notes under some of the new measures to empower users and civil society, that there will be “transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including on the algorithms used for recommending content or products to users.”

Given how valuable a piece of intellectual property (IP) algorithms can be for digital platforms, especially for streaming services like Spotify, being transparent on how these work presents a significant hurdle for many big tech firms.

As such, it will be interesting to see what kind of appetite there is to comply with such legislation and indeed the amount of push back there could be from big tech firms.

That said, this is only one further step in the process, with the DSA still subject to formal approval. It could therefore only come into play in two years time.

“Once adopted, the DSA will be directly applicable across the EU and will apply fifteen months or from 1 January 2024, whichever later, after entry into force. As regards the very large online platforms and very large online search engines the DSA will apply from an earlier date, that is four months after their designation,” the press release concludes.



[Image – Photo by Carl Campbell on Unsplash]


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