Later this year the European Commission is expected to publish the Digital Services Act (DSA). These new draft laws will aim at radically transforming the regulatory environment for tech companies operating in Europe. The DSA will deal with everything from content moderation, to online advertising, to competition issues in digital markets. Today, Mozilla filed extensive comments with the Commission, to outline Mozilla’s vision for how the DSA can address structural issues facing the internet while safeguarding openness and fundamental rights.
The stakes at play for consumers and the internet ecosystem could not be higher. If developed carefully and with broad input from the internet health movement, the DSA could help create an internet experience for consumers that is defined by civil discourse, human dignity, and individual expression. In addition, it could unlock more consumer choice and consumer-facing innovation, by creating new market opportunities for small, medium, and independent companies in Europe.
Below are the key recommendations in Mozilla’s 90-page submission:
- Content responsibility: The DSA provides a crucial opportunity to implement an effective and rights-protective framework for content responsibility on the part of large content-sharing platforms. Content responsibility should be assessed in terms of platforms’ trust & safety efforts and processes, and should scale depending on resources, business practices, and risk. At the same time, the DSA should avoid ‘down-stack’ content control measures (e.g. those targeting ISPs, browsers, etc). These interventions pose serious free expression risk and are easily circumventable, given the technical architecture of the internet.
- Meaningful transparency to address disinformation: To ensure transparency and to facilitate accountability, the DSA should consider a mandate for broad disclosure of advertising through publicly available ad archive APIs.
- Intermediary liability: The main principles of the E-Commerce directive still serve the intended purpose, and the European Commission should resist the temptation to weaken the directive in the effort to increase content responsibility.
- Market contestability: The European Commission should consider how to best support healthy ecosystems with appropriate regulatory engagement that preserves the robust innovation we’ve seen to date — while also allowing for future competitive innovation from small, medium and independent companies without the same power as today’s major platforms.
- Ad tech reform: The advertising ecosystem is a key driver of the digital economy, including for companies like Mozilla. However the ecosystem today is unwell, and a crucial first step towards restoring it to health would be for the DSA to address its present opacity.
- Governance and oversight: Any new oversight bodies created by the DSA should be truly co-regulatory in nature, and be sufficiently resourced with technical, data science, and policy expertise.
Our submission to the DSA public consultation builds on this week’s open letter from our CEO Mitchell Baker to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Together, they provide the vision and the practical guidance on how to make the DSA an effective regulatory tool.
In the coming months we’ll advance these substantive recommendations as the Digital Services Act takes shape. We look forward to working with EU lawmakers and the broader policy community to ensure the DSA succeeds in addressing the systemic challenges holding back the internet from what it should be.