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American serial entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed purchase of social network Twitter has garnered a lot of headlines lately. But Musk’s plan could hit serious roadblocks if he expects Twitter to operate in the European Union, among the world’s three largest markets.
As the Associated Press recently reported, proposed new EU rules that aim to prevent disinformation, hate speech and other online issues would presumably complicate any American-style, free-market-like “hands-off” approach to regulating expression on the platform.
Musk, who has spoken to EU officials about the proposed new rules and his potential Twitter purchase, doesn’t think the new law will present any problems, Reuters wrote. There’s little doubt that they could create challenges for tech companies in general, though.
Last month, European lawmakers enacted the Digital Services Act (DSA) to impose new rules on tech companies that proffer misinformation and illegal content, goods and services on social media and via online commerce, CNN explained. The law even governs algorithms that recommend social media posts and products to users.
Tech companies with more than 45 million users – think Facebook and Google – would face tougher burdens to comply with the new rules. Among other responsibilities, these companies will need to explain to users how their algorithms work and provide data to researchers who can track how online risks are evolving, according to the Verge.
The EU’s new law builds on the Digital Markets Act finalized in March. While the DSA aims to regulate content, this second law would reduce the market power of big (mostly American) tech companies and is intended to create a more competitive tech industry. Both laws are expected to come into effect next year, TechCrunch noted.
Meanwhile, European leaders are discussing a proposal to force tech companies to pay for the telecommunications infrastructure and facilities that allow them to make billions, Politico added.
In the New York Times, critics said the new rules would undermine innovation and competition and hurt American workers who benefit from the US tech industry.
Writers on the Washington Post’s editorial board called on the US government to take action lest European officials solidify rules that will influence American companies without their input.
On the other side, advocates of the new rules believe Europe is saving democracy from big tech companies that want to make money irrespective of whether they exert a toxic influence on public debates. “The DSA leads a democratic resurgence that challenges the tech giants’ vision for our future,” a Time magazine think piece contended.
Some of those tech critics say it’s a battle to determine whether companies and machines or humans are at the center of free societies.