Mon. Feb 22nd, 2021
France calls for EU to give countries more power to punish big tech

France is reportedly pushing to expand regulations that would give European Union member states more power to punish large tech companies’ bad behavior.

The changes France wants to see concern the Digital Services Act, proposed legislation that was designed to reduce anticompetitive behavior by tech companies and provide more online protections for consumers. If companies are found to have transgressed, the fines would be heavy.

France would also like to see countries have the power to force companies to remove content from their platforms that’s deemed problematic. Effectively, France is calling for individual states rather than the EU to be responsible for weeding out “illegal content.”

As it stands, EU member countries don’t have this ability unless the said tech companies have servers located in their country. Apple Inc., Google LLC, Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. currently have servers in Ireland and Luxembourg.

According to the Financial Times, Cedric O, France’s minister for the digital economy, has been meeting over the last few weeks with various members of the European parliament to discuss the matter. “Getting these laws passed is a major objective of ours for when France next holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council next year,” he told the Times. “They touch on vitally important subjects both for our economies and democracies.”

The proposition makes some EU officials worried. They told the Times that such a move would “fragment” the single market, saying that if 27 countries are each allowed to make such decisions, the outcome would turn “the single market into a nightmare.”

O also wants member countries to be able to police what it called “harmful content and disinformation,” not just illegal content. “We think the text needs to be broadened to include other types of problematic content,” he said. “If there is no legal framework, there is nothing to stop Twitter or Facebook from censoring speech they do not like.”

Photo: Christiaan Colen/Flickr

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