EU regulators seek feedback ahead of new tough tech rules

Thursday, May 28, 2020

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators are seeking feedback from users and digital service providers before drafting rules that could rein in Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber and other tech companies, an EU document seen by Reuters showed.

A 43-page questionnaire to be sent to members of the public, digital services providers and EU governments in coming weeks covers topics such as the power of "gatekeepers", online platforms' liability for illegal or harmful content, gig economy workers and transparency around online advertising.

The feedback will guide the European Commission's digital unit in drafting the Digital Services Act to replace the two-decade old e-commerce directive which governs online services in the 27-country bloc.

Respondents will be asked what they consider makes a company a gatekeeper, with options including a having large user base or holding a trove of data, market share in terms of turnover or how hard it is for users to switch to a rival.

The new act also seeks to define online platforms' responsibility and whether they should be more proactive in removing illegal or harmful content and products.

The document shows EU regulators are considering whether all online platforms, or only larger ones or those at particular risk of exposure to illegal activities by their users, should be subjected to take-down notices, and how prescriptive these should be.

Tech companies have said it is not fair and not technically feasible for them to police the internet. The current e-commerce directive says intermediary service providers play a technical, automatic and passive role.

The questionnaire, which was first reported on by the Financial Times, also asks if there is a need to improve the pay and working conditions of gig economy workers who offer their services through digital platforms.