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EU calls on US to create common rulebook for tech giants

News Agencies | Updated on: 27 January 2021, 11:12 IST

The European Union on Tuesday urged US President Joe Biden to join the 27-nation group in creating a common rule book designed to rein in the power of Big Tech companies and combat the spread of misinformation.

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen, at the Davos World Economic Forum, said that the darker side of the digital world was partly behind the Capitol riot on January 6 where a mob of former President Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as Trump -- sans evidence -- claimed that the election was 'fraudulently stolen' from him.

"We must address the darker sides of the digital world. Like for so many of us, the storming of the Capitol came as a shock to me. We...must nurture our democracy every day, and defend our institutions against the corrosive power of hate speech, of disinformation, fake news and incitement to violence," Von der Leyen said.

"The business model of online platforms has an impact - and not only on free and fair competition but also on our democracies, our security and on the quality of our information. That is why we need to contain this immense power of the big digital companies," she added.

The EC President further said that the power of big tech companies must be contained because "we want the values we cherish in the offline world also to be respected online."

"I want to invite our friends in the United States to join our initiatives. Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide: It goes from data protection and privacy to the security of critical infrastructure," Von der Leyen said.

Citing the speech by Biden during his inauguration where he spoke about challenges to democracy, the pandemic, climate change, the EC President said that these challenges could be met if "we work together".

According to The Hill, The Digital Services Act would introduce a series of new EU-wide obligations for companies to remove harmful and illegal content.

The Digital Markets Act would establish a series of obligations for digital "gatekeepers" to implement to ensure fair and open digital markets.

"From the protection of our democracy to the protection of our nature: Europe has everything to win from this new form of international and sectoral cooperation. And we will reach out to our partners from around the world," Von der Leyen said further.

The Hill further reported that Biden, during his presidential campaign, said he supported revoking Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which grants tech companies a liability shield for content posted on their platform by third parties. However, he has largely not detailed his administration's plans regarding tech regulation.


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First published: 27 January 2021, 11:12 IST