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18 Jan 2022

European Publishers Council, News Media Europe & 5 others

Media associations & representatives call on EU to strengthen Digital Services Act law proposal to safeguard freedom of expression online

18 January 2022

Imagine a world where platforms can censor negative news about themselves, where they can make arbitrary adjustments to their terms and conditions to block or remove news stories and real debate between citizens online is curtailed. This is what could happen if platforms are not obliged to respect European fundamental rights in the Digital Services Act (DSA).

This week in plenary, MEPs will vote on the DSA’s final amendments. This is a historic moment for European citizens whose activities and media consumption, especially since the pandemic, have largely shifted online. Representatives from the media sector remind lawmakers that, without the proper policies in place, platforms will continue to have free rein on what content is seen by European citizens. This is unacceptable from a media freedom and democratic perspective.

Despite contradictory and false messaging, the recently tabled amendments to article 12(1) and recital 38 are not a “media exemption” but would ensure the safeguard of fundamental rights online. Tabled by MEPs from across the political spectrum, amendments 511 and 513 clarify that platforms must respect media freedom and pluralism, as well as respect better communication with media organizations. We wholeheartedly welcome the efforts of a diverse group of MEPs to include this important safeguard in the DSA and call on the Plenary to support these amendments during the vote.

Wouter Gekiere, Head of Brussels Office, EBU said: “The latest amendments look to introduce obligations to make platforms accountable for upholding fundamental rights and to respect media freedom and applicable content rules. No more, no less. The media sector is subject to many content rules at European and national levels. Platforms should not override them, for example by setting different age limitations on editorial content. These types of actions put limits to our media and freedom of expression laws.”...