EU calls for international BigTech regulation

The president of the European Union has called for the international regulation of technology giants in a speech on the inauguration of president elect Joe Biden.

In her statement to the European Parliament Plenary, EU president Ursula von der Leyen said that democratic limits must be imposed on the “untrammelled and uncontrolled political power of the internet giants.”

Von der Leyen said that Europe had a lot to offer the new US government in the digital field, suggesting that the path the EU had taken could be used as an example for international approaches.

“I can imagine, for example, a joint Trade and Technology Council, as a first step,” she said. “Together we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide:

She added: “From data protection and privacy to the security of technical infrastructure. A body of rules based on our values: human rights and pluralism, inclusion and protection of privacy.

The EU president, who described the new US presidency as a “new dawn,” said that Europe values innovation and technology, but that new technologies must “never mean that others decide how we live our lives.”

Referencing the EU Digital Services Act, and the Digital Market Act, which were both launched in December, she said that Europe simply wanted to ensure that if something is illegal offline, it must also be illegal online.

“We want the platforms to be transparent about how their algorithms work,” she added. “We cannot accept a situation where decisions that have a wide-ranging impact on our democracy are being made by computer programs without any human supervision.”

She also said that the EU wants to make sure internet companies take responsibility for the content they disseminate.

The EU president said: “This point is also important to me: No matter how right it may have been for Twitter to switch off Donald Trump's account five minutes after midnight, such serious interference with freedom of expression should be based on laws and not on company rules. It should be based on decisions of politicians and parliaments and not of Silicon Valley managers.”

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