EL welcomes new digital rules approved by European Parliament

The EL has welcomed a draft of new digital rulings agreed by the EP that addresses illegal content, ensuring platforms are held accountable.

The European Lotteries has welcomed a draft of new digital rulings agreed by the European Parliament that addresses illegal content, ensuring platforms are held accountable for algorithms and improving content moderation.

Adopting its position on the Digital Service Act, the outcome of the regulation, conducted by a vote from MEPs, saw 530 votes to 78 with 80 abstentions. This approval will be used as the mandate to negotiate with the French presidency of the Council, representing member states. 

Commenting on the outcome, Arjan van ‘t Veer, EL secretary general, explained: “EL members strongly believe in a high level of consumer protection and are fully committed to the fight against illegal online gambling. 

“The DSA foresees a number of new provisions that could be beneficial to this end. EL hopes that these will be at the disposal of its members, most notably an improved notice-and-action mechanism, the concept of trusted flaggers and enhanced consumer protection and know-your-business-customer requirements.”

The DSA is a future EU regulation with the aim to create a safer digital space in which users’ rights are protected through rules to tackle illegal products, services or content online; enhance the accountability and transparency of algorithms; and deal with content moderation. 

Following the release of the proposal by the European Commission in December 2020, member states in the Council adopted their general approach last November. EL urged the Council ahead of its meeting to exclude the explicit mention of online gambling and betting services from DSA.

After the vote, Christel Schaldemose MEP, who is leading the Parliament’s negotiating team, said: “Today’s vote shows MEPs and EU citizens want an ambitious digital regulation fit for the future. Much has changed in the 20 years since we adopted the e-commerce directive. 

“Online platforms have become increasingly important in our daily life, bringing new opportunities, but also new risks. It is our duty to make sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online. We need to ensure that we put in place digital rules to the benefit of consumers and citizens. 

“Now we can enter into negotiations with the Council, and I believe we will be able to deliver on these issues.”

The amendments by the Parliament are said to include a “more transparent and informed choice” for the recipients of digital services, prohibition of targeting or amplification techniques involving the data of minors for the purpose of showing ads, along with targeting individuals on the basis of special categories of data which allow for targeting vulnerable groups. 

Moreover, recipients of digital services and organisations representing them must be able to seek redress for any damages resulting from platforms not respecting its due diligence obligations. 

Arjan added: “Today EL welcomes the support by MEPs, in particular by rapporteur Christel Schaldemose to improve the European Commission’s proposal to create a safer digital space for everyone. This marks a milestone update in the regulation of Internet in the EU.’’

Under the DSA, larger platforms will have additional obligations due to the alleged risks they pose regarding the dissemination of both illegal and harmful content. These include provisions on mandatory risk assessments, risk mitigation measures, independent audits,and the transparency of recommender systems – algorithms that determine what users see.

The next step following EP approval involves negotiations between all the three institutions – nicknamed the trilogues – which will see the final text of the future regulation solidified and DSA rules potentially introduced in 2023. 

In December 2020, the European Gaming and Betting Association backed the DSA proposal, after the European Commission called for “an ambitious reform of the digital space”.

At the time, the EGBA stated that “although online gambling as such is not regulated by the DSA,” its relevance remains for the sector due to ex-ante rules for digital gatekeepers, such as social media companies, the digital liability of online platforms, online advertising, and notice and take down actions.

“We welcome the Commission’s Digital Services Act, and hope this will be the beginning of renewed efforts by the Commission to address many of the regulatory challenges which impact on companies and consumers who buy and sell services in the digital space,” stated Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA.

“One of the challenges we see in Europe’s online gambling sector is the need for more consistent regulations in the EU, particularly in respect to customer protection, and the Commission needs to step up to address the current fragmentation.”