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Debates
Monday, 19 October 2020 - Brussels Provisional edition

Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market - Digital Services Act: adapting commercial and civil law rules for commercial entities operating online - Digital Services Act and fundamental rights issues posed - Framework of ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies - Civil liability regime for artificial intelligence - Intellectual property rights for the development of artificial intelligence technologies (debate)
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  Kris Peeters, rapporteur. – Madam President, online services are everywhere, from the way we inform ourselves to the way we keep in touch with friends; from the way we buy books and clothes to the way we travel; from the way we eat to the way we make a date. And some people born in a different time, like myself, might want to go back to how it was before, because it seems like a simpler time. But we can’t. We simply cannot put the genie back into the bottle. The online world with digital services, with artificial intelligence – it’s all here to stay. The future will be more digital, not less, and it brings incredible progress that we, as policymakers, should embrace. But... it also brings dangers that we cannot ignore anymore.

Let us be honest with each other, colleagues. The EU has done more to regulate the online world than any other continent. Yet, even here, it is still the Wild West! Over the past decades, we have not followed up on illegal content and illegal activities online with the same rigour as we have illegal activities offline. We have not achieved any meaningful transparency over how algorithms push content to users on a massive scale. We have not grasped the impact of it on our democracies, our culture and our fundamental rights. Instead, we have focused on voluntary cooperation, which is good, but not good enough. Not nearly good enough.

So as this European Parliament discusses these six reports on the Digital Services Act (DSA) and artificial intelligence (AI), I have one overarching message: these digital files matter a great deal more than many people think. We cannot leave this to the private sector without oversight and enforcement. We must keep this in the public debate as a priority and we must regulate, no matter how technical these files are. The difficult challenge before us is to find the balance between digital progress and respect for fundamental rights.

As rapporteur for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) DSA report, I’m raising a few issues right now. The value of lawmaking is the real change it effects. If we start off with conflicting regulations and directives that undermine each other instead of complementing each other, we have lost the battle before it starts. We must respect the scope of each digital file.

Secondly, the fundamentals of the e-commerce Directive were great, but its greatest issue was transparency. We must improve and enforce meaningful transparency, and I call for a clear mandate from this Parliament.

Thirdly, we all agree on the importance of notice and action mechanisms to remove illegal content online, but this places the burden almost entirely on users. We therefore should complement notice and action with clear and appropriate obligations to remove illegal content, and it’s the public authorities who should provide the funding to follow up on this.

Finally, I would like of course personally to thank all the shadow rapporteurs and all my colleagues on the LIBE DSA report for their excellent cooperation.

 
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