- The EU’s Orwellian Internet Censorship Regime
- The Internet is about to become a whole lot less free.
- On Friday, August 25th, the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which it passed last year, comes into force. Among many other things, the DSA obliges large online platforms to swiftly take down illegal content, hate speech, and so-called disinformation—aiming, in the words of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, to “ensure that the online environment remains a safe space.” Very large online platforms (VLOPs) with more than 45 million monthly active users must abide by the rules from Friday; smaller platforms have until February to comply. Designated by the Commission back in April, the 19 VLOPs include all the big names—Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, YouTube and Amazon—as well as smaller fries like Wikipedia, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.
- Under this Orwellian regime, a team of hundreds of unelected EU bureaucrats will decide what constitutes disinformation and instruct Big Tech firms to censor it. The firms themselves, faced with reputational risk and financial penalties, will have little choice other than to comply. This can be done in all manner of ways: simply by human moderators removing content, by shadow-banning problematic creators to reduce their reach, by demonetizing certain content, and by tweaking algorithms to favor or disfavor certain topics. And though, legally speaking, the DSA only applies in the EU, once installed inside Big Tech firms, this vast content-regulation apparatus will surely affect users in the rest of the world, too.
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